Prized Plates: Indy’s James Beard Semifinalists

Your guide to the 2016 James Beard Awards semifinalists.

Earlier this week, The James Beard Foundation announced its first round of semifinalists for this year’s culinary awards, and Indy’s bold new dining scene did not go unnoticed. Five locals received nods for what those in culinary circles view as the Oscars of the food world. If you are the type of person who likes to watch every movie before the first red-carpet interview, you have some serious dining to squeeze in before the finalists are announced on March 15 (and the winners are named on May 2). In the meantime, enjoy these previews.


Martha Hoover, President of Patachou, Inc. and owner of Cafe Patachou, Petite Chou, Napolese, and Public Greens

Semifinalist, Outstanding Restaurateur

Hoover’s focus on fresh, simple, and local foods has garnered the attorney-turned-restaurateur a loyal following.

Submitted for consideration: Wednesday night’s duck fat–fried chicken at Petite Chou


Alan Sternberg, chef at Cerulean

Semifinalist, Rising Star of the Year

A creative streak and molecular tendencies make Sternberg one of the most innovative chefs in town.

Submitted for consideration: The tender corned beef starter with polenta and apple mustard

The Corned Beef starter at Ceruelan


Jonathan Brooks, chef and owner of Milktooth

Semifinalist, Best Chef: Great Lakes

The accidental spokesperson for all things young, bold, and delicious in Indianapolis, Brooks might convince the culinary world that it has everything turned around: Brooklyn is the Fletcher Place of New York.

Submitted for consideration: The daily Dutch Baby treatment

One of the daily Dutch Babies at Milktooth


Greg Hardesty, chef and owner of Recess

Semifinalist, Best Chef: Great Lakes

Not only among the most talented chefs in Indy but also one the most highly regarded, Hardesty’s prix fixe menus never disappoint.

Submitted for consideration: Sushi from Recess’s new raw bar



Abbi Merriss, chef at Bluebeard

Semifinalist, Best Chef: Great Lakes

Merriss’s laidback approach to gourmet dining feels right at home among the vintage typewriters and mismatched barstools.

Submitted for consideration: Dense and flaky chess pie