Posted on October 26, 2011 by Indiana's Cool North
By Barbara Morrow, Midwest Living editor
It was hard to decide whether to describe these culinary artists—just a few of the talented chefs working in Northern Indiana’s exceptional eateries—as “inspired” or “inspiring.” Both adjectives fit, really. They are inspired by their passion for food and fresh local bounty. They are inspiring, because each elevates our tastes and helps us feel their connection to the land and the art of food.
1. Pat Kelly Molden, Kelly’s Table
You’ll only find five entrees on the menu at this fairy-cottage of a restaurant in the Creekwood Inn, tucked into the woods near Michigan City. And, those five things—like duck topped with cherry sauce—will draw on what’s ripening in area fields and orchards. That’s hard for people to understand sometimes, Pat says. “We’re not used to being governed by the season, but the best and freshest is what is growing down the road.” The menu is limited because the kitchen is small and Pat makes everything herself. When diners ask what she recommends, the answer isn’t much help: everything. Pat explains, “It’s personal. It’s important that I like everything that I make.”
2. Justin Venturi, Venturi
The chef at this hip new café in Goshen looks more like a college computer geek than a culinary artist. He even designed the iPhone app that waiters use to flash orders back to the kitchen. Actually, though, he studied art in college, and he and two co-owners created the abstract paintings on the wall. “I feel the connection between food and art,” Justin says. The masterpieces that come from the compact open kitchen include wood-fired pizzas loaded with ingredients so fresh that they almost glow.
3. Caleb France, Cerulean
After growing up in nearby Goshen, Caleb brings an appreciation of local farm traditions and practicality to this converted waterside cottage in Winona Lake. “I try to highlight as many farms as possible and make it realistic for the consumer,” he says. This dedication shows in the menu which reads like a directory of the best producers of fresh ingredients, from duck to goat cheese and lamb.