(Dec. 29, 1968-June 22, 2021). Greg S. Hardesty was a local acclaimed chef and mentor, recognized for his contributions that led to the vibrant growth of the Indianapolis culinary scene in the first two decades of the 21st century. He was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Ronald Hardesty and Toni Sarone.

Hardesty attended Indiana University and graduated in 1991 with a degree in public and environmental affairs. After graduating, it took just a brief stint at a sales job to convince Hardesty to go after his true passion–cooking. His first job in a kitchen was at Glass Chimney restaurant in Carmel.

In the mid-1990s, Hardesty and his wife Susan Korte Hardesty, whom he married on September 4, 1993, moved to Los Angeles. He took a job at a Joachim Splichal restaurant where he received experience and training in the kitchen. Later, Hardesty moved north to San Francisco to work as a sous chef at the then-highly acclaimed restaurant Rubicon.

Semifinalists in the James Beard Foundation Awards [left to right are Regina Mehallick of R Bistro, Greg Hardesty of Recess, Abbi and John Adams of Bluebeard, Martha Hoover of Patachou, and Neal Brown of Libertine], 2013 Credit: Charlie Nye / The Star, IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC View Source

After the birth of the first of Hardesty’s two daughters, he and his family moved back to Indianapolis. Here Hardesty began what would be a 20-year career as a chef. He opened his first restaurant, H2O Sushi, in 2000. In doing so, Hardesty kick-started the culinary scene in Indianapolis.

Elements, a farm-to-table concept, was Hardesty’s second restaurant, which he opened in 2003. His next restaurant, Recess, opened in 2010. At Recess, Hardesty created a daily changing prix-fixe menu (a multi-course meal for a fixed price) that featured seafood, seasonal cooking, and classic techniques. A year later, he opened Room Four adjacent to Recess to provide more casual fare. In 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016, he was named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Award, which recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts.

Hardesty’s last venture was Studio C in 2019. A new concept, Studio C was not just a restaurant but a kitchen and culinary studio, providing a mix of coffee, grab-and-go foods, and cooking classes while also being a modern-day dinner club.

Through these restaurants, Hardesty helped grow the Indianapolis food scene. He brought unique food and dining experiences to the city. He also provided training to up-and-coming Indianapolis chefs such as Jonathan Brooks (Milktooth), Abbi Merriss (Bluebeard), and Neal Brown (Ukiyo).

Hardesty was diagnosed with cancer in July 2020. Ivy Tech Community School of Culinary Arts established the Culinary Crossroads Chef Greg Hardesty Scholarship in 2022 for students enrolled in its School of Culinary Arts.

Revised June 2022

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