April/May 2023 This past weekend, Rev 2023 celebrated 10 years of hosting one of Indy’s most extravagant fundraisers for IU Health that featured 86 of Indy’s top chefs and restaurants for an evening of fine tastings. For the first time, Executive Chef and Beverage Director Hotel Carmichael Chef Jason Crouch exhibited his culinary expertise at Rev at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and for that reason, Carmel Monthly is incredible proud to feature Chef Crouch on our latest cover! From the Farm to French Cuisine Hoosier native Chef Crouch shared a little of the backstory on how his culinary and life journey led him from his family farm near Muncie to his role at the Hotel Carmichael in Carmel, Indiana, overseeing the kitchens for the hotel’s venues: Vivante French Eatery and Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael. Chef Crouch began his culinary career at the Culinary Arts program that took him to study abroad in France. Chef Crouch held several positions before earning the position as Executive Chef at the Indiana State Museum at the age of 23. Since then, Chef Crouch has led culinary teams around the Indianapolis area before joining the Hotel Carmichael team. “Growing up northeast of Muncie in farm country, I remember going to the farmers market with my mom setting up and selling stuff,” Chef Crouch shared. “My mom still grows a lot of what she eats and cans it and saves it for the rest of the year. My kids will still only eat her grape jelly from her grape arbor. So, local is very important to me.” In the year that Chef Crouch has been orchestrating the kitchens of both Vivante and Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, he has networked with many local growers and purveyors. He is also a regular at the Carmel Farmers Summer Market, which is conveniently located right outside of the Hotel Carmichael on Carter Green. Cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with growers and purveyors is important to Chef Crouch. “The dish for Rev featured a protein from a local farmer,” Chef Crouch said. “I’m always looking for partners rather than vendors — that’s important to me in a business model. You can’t do it by yourself , and if you only work with vendors, you’re not going to make it very far.” The Essence of Spring In a Dish As it was only Chef Crouch’s first month at Hotel Carmichael, in addition to not having adequate staff, he missed out on the opportunity to participate in Rev last year. Luckily, he was approved to be one of the 86 chefs featured this year. “I was so excited when Jamie told me that we had been approved,” Chef Crouch expressed. “And then we were paired with our French driver and I was like, this is brilliant! We had a French restaurant and a French driver — that was a match made in heaven. And to be able to help out IU Health, which is an amazing organization, and to be a part of this huge event was exciting. I know a lot of local chefs who were on the waiting list, so it was an honor to be invited. I went to the chef orientation and found out that we'd be in the VIP Experience section, in the Pagoda, which was even more exciting.” Chef Crouch explained that the dish is supposed be inspired by the Indy Car driver that each chef is paired with. Upon his research, Chef Crouch learned that Pagenaud is a red wine enthusiast. “Pagenaud maintains a wine cellar in France,” Chef Crouch stated. “I was like, well, that’s perfect! Red wine and food go hand in hand. But it’s springtime, and when I think of red wine, I think of heavy winter dishes. So, the challenge was figuring out how to utilize red wine and cooking outside of a stew or winter dish.” Chef Crouch’s Hoosier roots became his source of inspiration, and a little taste of Indiana farm country was paired with a little taste of France’s wine regions to create a culinary masterpiece. “I came up with the idea to mix fruit with the dish,” Chef Crouch explained. “So, we made a strawberry red wine sauce. And since all about Indiana, I thought about what immortalizes Indiana: pork. For me, it’s pork tenderloins, and having grown up down the street from a hog farm, I wanted to use pork. I ended up with a pork belly — from Fischer Farms — that I had curing for two weeks, seared and then topped with our red wine strawberry sauce.” Chef Crouch added, “Then I thought about it being springtime, and I thought of a strawberry rhubarb pie, mowing my grass for the first time and the dandelions in my yard. So, we made a rhubarb puree underneath the pork belly topped off with the strawberry red wine sauce. Nestled next to the pork belly were dandelion greens with the sauce drizzled over those. Topping it all off, we gave a little spicy flair with spicy candied pecans. You got the sweet from the rhubarb, the salty from the pork and your bitter from the greens.” Wine Down this Summer at Vivante If you weren’t able to clench tickets for Rev 2023, be sure to visit Chef Crouch and his staff at Vivante French Eatery or grab dinner and a show at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael this spring and summer! Chef Crouch shared some exciting news that involves the newly expanded patio outside of Vivante overlooking the gorgeous Palladium and Center for the Performing Arts campus. “We’re looking at having live acoustic music on the expanded patio on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings,” Chef Crouch said. “The idea of this is you can come watch the sunset, drink a glass of wine, have some charcuterie or small bites and listen to the music. We will also host our first wine dinner on June 5. It will be limited seating, and those will go quickly. We’re hoping to do those once a month throughout the summer. So, lot of exciting things to come!” For more information, visit Vivante French Eatery’s website at vivantecarmel.com and be sure to follow Vivante on Facebook and Instagram.