INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — She creates each dish with passion and love. Her love of food started simmering when she was younger. Now, she owns a popular Indianapolis restaurant.
Chef Abbi Merriss first began cooking when she was about 18 years old. She moved out to Norfolk, Virginia, right after high school. She fell into the service industry, working her way up at a restaurant
“I learned that I had a knack for cooking. I started to dive into the culinary scene a little bit more in Norfolk,” Merriss said.
That knack and her love of food came from her family. She grew up around food as comfort. Her mother often made sure they had a big meal on the table. Her father would celebrate good grades or birthdays with a steak dinner or his famous smoky burgers.
“So, like everything kind of just always migrated around food. It always made people happy. It just, yeah, it was part of my life, and that’s when it all clicked. I was like, maybe that’s why I have this passion to make people happy,” Merriss said.
She worked at different restaurants and came back to Indianapolis in 2005. She learned even more, got a chef’s academy scholarship in 2007 and a New York internship.
She opened Bluebeard in 2012.
“It’s our blank canvas every day so that we can create whatever kind of food we’re craving, Merriss said.
There are some menu mainstays, but most of the menu changes daily or weekly because the cooking is seasonal.
When I visited Merriss, she cooked up a delicious steak meal for me.
Merriss told News 8 that she has had some wild stories since she opened up the Bluebeard on Virginia Avenue. She tells me one time, Lady Gaga ate at the restaurant!
“She kept calling me Amy instead of Abbi and I said, ‘I don’t care what she calls me, it’s Gaga!” Merriss said. “She was giving me hugs. So I was kind of blown away by that like, ‘Oh my gosh! Lady Gaga is here at the restaurant having drinks with me calling me Amy all the while. That was great! That was fun!'”
She hopes her food inspires people.
“I would hope that when people taste my dishes, that they understand that it’s all about the simplicity of the food and letting certain ingredients shine,” Merriss said.
And she does it one dish at a time.
This is the first story in a series we’re calling “INside Story.” The rest of David‘s stories looking at Indy’s top chefs — as recommended by Visit Indiana and Visit Indy — will air each evening this week on News 8.