‘Indy Chef Chicks’ Chocolate & Coffee dinner at Milktooth

Oct 26th, 2015 | by Eat Drink Indy | News, Restaurants

Some of Indy’s top female chefs — and a top bartender as well — are putting on a killer dinner at Milktooth with dishes and drinks featuring chocolate from Chocolate for the Spirit and coffee from Bee Coffee Roasters.

Indy chef chicks

‘Indy Chef Chicks’ Chocolate & Coffee dinner participants (from left): bartender Jessica Taylor, chef Abbi Merriss, chef Erin Kem and pastry chef Zoe Taylor.

Here’s a little background on the Chocolate & Coffee dinner participants: Abbi Merriss, Zoe Taylor, Erin Kem and Jessica Taylor:

Abbi Merriss, executive chef/partner at Bluebeard

“When I was 18 I moved to Norfolk Virginia and I got a job at just this little carry-out restaurant. And I was just a counter girl. But anyone that worked there had to do some prep in the kitchen on their down time. So eventually just by doing that, I worked my way up and became the manager. And then I was like, ‘Ooh, I think I’m actually pretty good at this,’ so I decided I was going to go to another restaurant and just start building up, you know? I worked at another place in Norfolk, and then I figured it was time for me to move back to Indianapolis. So in 2005 I moved here, and I wasn’t going to continue on with cooking anymore. I thought I would try to make more money and become a server. But Greg Hardesty was bound and determined to not let me do that. And so he made a position for me in his kitchen at Elements.”

Zoe Taylor, pastry chef at Milktooth

“I went to undergrad for English Literature and French and I had fully intended on becoming an English or French professor one day. As I was going to undergrad I worked at a small family-run coffee shop called Kavarna in Green Bay, which is where I went to school. And they kind of had just  been buying the same old weird Sysco-bought baked  goods for a while and I was hoping on doing something better, something different. And so I kind of just started baking there and earned my chops, and I just fell in love with it.”

Erin Kem, executive chef at R bistro

“I come from a family of teachers, so after I decided I wasn’t going to become a veterinarian or a ballerina, I figured I’ll go into academia. But I got the opportunity to teach English in France for a year. That was fantastic. I didn’t make a lot of money but I was in a great city where I could walk everywhere. I tried new foods. And I lived on the edge of the Arabic neighborhood as well. That maybe had something to do with my love of Middle Eastern food. I did a lot of cooking on my own in France and dining at cool restaurants and trying things I hadn’t had before. And I came home thinking, ‘Okay, I want to go to culinary school instead of grad school.’”

Jessica Taylor, brand ambassador/account specialist for Oak by Absolut and president of the local chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild

“I recently just took a job with Absolut, so I am now a brand ambassador — more specifically I am an account specialist for Oak by Absolut. With every brand it means something a little bit different. For me I’m launching a brand new product to the market, so during the day, it’s a lot of me just visiting accounts, which is luckily a lot of my friends, and giving them samples and talking about the product and what our drink strategy is, and what our target demographic is for this product and basically selling into accounts and working a lot like a sales consultant for a distributor would do. The fun part is then after I get all that hard work done, then essentially the brand ambassador part of my job comes in where I have events, and I get to hang out in bars, and I get to buy drinks for people. And for some reason they pay me to do it, which is pretty fantastic.”



Jolene’s Blog

World Food Championships Final Table comes to Indy

Pork. Duck. Pie. Could you come up with dishes in those categories worth $100,000? Ten contestants will be trying to do just that when they compete in the World Food Championships Final Table competition in Indy next week. Final Table: Indy will take place at the Ivy Tech Culinary Center Aug. 8-9, as 10 culinary … more »


Where to eat now

Hedge Row

350 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis

Sugarfire Smokehouse

24 W. Washington St., Indianapolis


Oca (inside Sun King Brewing)
135 N. College Ave., Indianapolis