Steaking His Claim: Chef Ricky Hatfield

Fine dining gets some sizzle in Ricky Hatfield’s kitchen at CharBlue, downtown’s latest meat palace.
Chef Ricky Hatfield knows what locavores say about steakhouses. They’re stuffy. Dark. Chasing an older crowd that’s dressed to the nines. None of which screams sexy or interesting to Indianapolis foodies who prefer their dining experiences low on pomp and circumstance, high on community tables and shareable plates. At CharBlue, the chophouse he helped launch with Gary Brackett and Jeremiah Hamman in the former Georgia Reese’s space downtown, Hatfield aims to change some minds. “We’re trying to bridge that gap between traditional steakhouse expectations and a younger demographic that likes progressive cuisine and techniques,” he says. That means a classic dry-aged sirloin shares real estate on the menu with a “PB&J” of house-cured pork belly, peanut butter beignet, and Concord grape gastrique.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We just want to make the wheel better.”

Hatfield graduated from the culinary program at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis and did stints at McCormick & Schmicks, Barcelona Tapas, and Weber Grill before making a name for himself as the executive chef at Peterson’s. Now that he’s settled in at CharBlue, he says, “we’re sticking to some of the core values people expect from a steakhouse, like attention to detail and service that’s available, but not intrusive. We just do it in a more rustic and fun atmosphere.” Hatfield thinks about it a minute before summing it up this way: “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We just want to make the wheel better.”
(1) Chicken wings: ”I’m a pretty no-frills guy when it comes to food outside the restaurant.”
(2) Quirky tees: “I always have to wear T-shirts under my chef coat, so I like interesting ones.”
(3) A 12-inch offset spatula: “Great for plating foods, and lots of other things. I can even use the handle as a screwdriver.”
(4) Homemade chipotle sweet-potato soufflé with toasted marshmallow fluff and pecan crumble. Click here for the recipe.