Spoke & Steele’s Erin Gillum, Our August Foodie

One Sweet Gig: At Spoke & Steele, chef Erin Gillum gets to have her cake and eat it, too.
Erin Gillum has it pretty good. As chef de cuisine at Spoke & Steele inside Le Méridien, she has the financial support of a global hotel chain, with the freedom to operate as a local restaurant. “We’re corporate-owned, but with an independent feel,” says Gillum. “We get to create our menu, hire who we want, order from local farms.”

What’s tricky is balancing the menu so it stays fresh for local foodies, but stable for business travelers at the hotel who want to order their old standbys—like braised beef with Nicole-Taylor’s noodles, or the burger with Fischer Farms beef and an Amelia’s brioche bun. Daily specials and seasonal sides are always changing, though. “That’s where we get to have fun,” says Gillum.

One reason she took the job was to work with Greg Hardesty, five-time James Beard Award semi-finalist and chef/owner of the dearly departed Recess. Spoke & Steele lured Hardesty out of kitchen retirement to be its consulting chef, and he and Gillum have an easy rapport. “I could just tell what he wanted,” she says. “We had a connection when it came to food.”

This Chef’s Academy–trained Greenwood native has done it all in the hospitality biz, from bartender to fish cutter to, most recently, catering manager at Wabash College. When Spoke & Steele came calling, the timing was right. “I felt like I had learned what I needed to outside the kitchen,” says Gillum, “and I’ve been dying to get back in.”

Click here for Erin’s recipe for black bean and corn salad.