Jason Crouch Wins Chef of the Year Award From the American Culinary Federation’s Indy Chapter
As a child, Jason Crouch was introduced to quality cuisine.
“My parents grew most of the fruits and vegetables that we ate, and we cooked everything at home,” Crouch says. “So I’ve had a passion from a young age for good, scratch-made food.”
Crouch, a Center Grove resident, is using this same approach as executive chef for Embassy Suites by Hilton in Noblesville, including the facility’s in-house restaurant, The Local Kitchen and Tap. The hotel has space to offer plated meals for up to 1,000 people, with Crouch relying on his dedicated staff to make sure the food is prepared to perfection.
Originally from Jay County, Crouch decided to pursue a job in the culinary industry as a teenager.
“Before I graduated high school I knew I was going to go to culinary school, so I used my college visitation days to come down to Indianapolis and do job interviews,” Crouch says. “I started two jobs down here in Indy before I graduated high school, and paid for culinary school that way.”
Crouch gained useful experience while attending culinary school at Ivy Tech.
“I traveled abroad with Ivy Tech in France and studied at the Paul Bocuse Institute in France for a couple weeks,” Crouch says. “Since then, I’ve worked all over in the industry.”
Over the years, Crouch has worked in just about every type of culinary environment, from diners to large-scale facilities. Prior to his job at Embassy Suites in Noblesville, he worked at Mesh restaurant in Indy.
“Moving around so much in the industry, I’ve learned from so many different chefs,” Crouch says. “Now, I feel like I’m just a melting pot of all of them. I know something about the entire industry.”
Crouch learned a bit about the hotel industry in college while working as a valet and bell captain at the Marriott hotel in downtown Indy.
“I really enjoyed the hotel industry – it was such a family,” Crouch says. “Everyone in the hotel knew everybody. We were all one family, and I really missed that atmosphere.”
Crouch was drawn back to the hotel atmosphere when a long-time colleague offered him a job at Embassy Suites in Noblesville, where he now serves as executive chef for The Local Kitchen and Tap.
“Anywhere I’ve been, I’ve tried to utilize local, and I’ve truly tried to stand by that with the name of this restaurant,” Crouch says. “Partnering with local farmers and the kind of people I grew up around is important to me.”
Crouch also endeavors to employ the chefs of tomorrow, offering real-world experience to young, aspiring culinary students from Ivy Tech and J. Everett Light Career Center.
“My entire prep team is 21 or under – most of them I get straight out of high school,” Crouch says. “I mentor those students, give them a job and show them what the real world is like. And when they get done here, they can go apply for a job anywhere because they have restaurant experience, banquet experience and scratch-cooking experience.”
Given his mentoring mentality with culinary expertise, it’s no wonder Crouch’s colleagues with the Indianapolis chapter of the American Culinary Federation awarded him Chef of the Year honors in March.
“My colleagues and professors who taught me voted for me, and they thought I was deserving of it,” Crouch says. “That’s what really means a lot to me.”