Chasing a Dream

Madison chef Richmer appears on
Food Channel’s ‘Chopped’ TV show

The Crystal and Jules owner competes for $10,000

(April 2019)
Read previous Don Ward columns!

Don Ward

A Madison, Ind., chef received national exposure on April 2 with his appearance on the Food Channel’s “Chopped” show. Andy Richmer, chef and owner of Crystal and Jules fine dining restaurant in Madison, traveled to New York to compete with three other chefs for a chance to win $10,000.
Richmer, who could be reached for comment in late March, is a 35-year-old Madison native who first learned to cook by watching his grandmother in the kitchen and then working his way up the food ranks to finally becoming an owner of his own restaurant. He named his restaurant after his wife, Crystal, and his late mother, Julie, who died in 2006 at age 50 after losing a battle with cancer. On his restaurant’s website, Richmer writes of his mother, “Everyday I try to still make her proud and treat people in the loving way she did.”

Food Channel Photo

Madison, Ind., chef Andy Richmer appeared on the Food Channel show “Chopped” on April 2. He owns Crystal and Jules fine dining restaurant in Madison.

Richmer began his culinary career at age 14 when he started working at the local McDonald’s. “It not only taught me speed and working fast with food, but it gave me an even stronger lesson, which is, how to make people happy.’
He worked in fast food all through high school then began taking Culinary Vocational Classes in high school under the direction of teacher Shirley Herrick. “I was hooked. I loved food and cooking from the start.”
Upon graduating from high school, he applied and was accepted at Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky. Sullivan is known as one of the top culinary schools in the nation.
Richmer attended Sullivan for 3½ years and earned diplomas in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, and Professional Catering.
Upon graduation, he began working at Belterra Casino and worked his way up to Room Chef, running several kitchens there. While working at Belterra, he completed continuing education classes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. After five years with Belterra, Richmer in November 2011 purchased an existing restaurant at 709 W. Main St. in Madison, renaming it Crystal and Jules.
Richmer told the Louisville Courier-Journal that taping the episode was an intense experience by cooking in front of television cameras, in a foreign kitchen and using surprise ingredients all while trying to beat the clock to complete the series of challenges. In the March 28 Courier-Journal article, he said, “Being from a town of 12,000 where I have lived all my life and knew most of my customers, cooking in the ‘Chopped’ kitchen studio in New York was an experience like no other. The pressure, the surprise ingredients, the clock. It all pushes you to the edge of your limits.”
Richmer was not allowed to divulge the winner prior to the airing of the show, but the Courier-Journal learned that the episode focused on pasta on all three culinary rounds. That could be to Richmer’s advantage, since his upscale restaurant rolls its own pasta and serves homemade gnocchi.
Richmer concluded his interview with the Courier-Journal by saying of the experience, “I learned a lot about myself as a chef on the show. It was good for me. It will be good for Madison and good for my restaurant. I mean, when have you ever heard of anything like this coming out of Madison?”

Koerners to open pizza restaurant

After a long history of operating Key West Shrimp House in Madison, Ind., Scott and Susan Koerner sold the business to Cathy Morgan and retired in January 2015. Scott held various jobs around town, but the lure of the food industry kept tugging at his heart.

Photo provided

Scott Koerner poses with a pizza at his new Brittany’s Pizza parlor in Madison, Ind.

He finally gave in to his urges and recently enrolled in a unique brick oven pizza cooking class in New York. He spent a week taking classes from instructors master chefs Scot Cosentino and Andrew Scudera at Goodfellas Pizza School of New York in Staten Island, N.Y. After completing the four-day class and learning several recipes for sauces and pasta and desserts, he returned to Madison and now is about to open Brittany’s Brick Oven Pizza. It is named after the couple’s 32-year-old daughter, Brittany. Koerner bought an Italian-made brick oven that he has installed at his new restaurant location at 2034 Lanier Dr. It is the site of the former Marzipan Cakery & Deli.
“The oven is so big that we had to take the back wall out to get it inside the building and then build the wall back,” said Koerner, 55. “It has a wood and gas combination and a rotating, heated floor. It’s a monster; it weighs almost three tons.”
Koerner created a window in a wall so that customers could look into the kitchen to see the big brick oven.
The couple has been cooking pizzas for a few weeks to perfect their food offerings and hope to open sometime in April, he said. “We have had a few hiccups with the building, which have slowed us down.”
The couple has hired several staff members – many of them former employees and relatives of employees from when they owned the Shrimp House.
The Koerners do not plan to deliver pizzas but will offer carryout, he said. “It is a very small place that only seats 26 people. Brittany works full-time at the Madison State Hospital, but Scott said the goal is to get the restaurant up and running and someday retire and maybe turn it over to her.
Retire? Again? Well, that is, until Scott feels the tug of yet another food industry opportunity.
You can keep up with the Koerners’ progress on Facebook or at their website: www.BrittanysPizza.com.

The Pines closes; Bistro One sold to Heitzes

The Pines restaurant on the Madison, Ind., hilltop has closed after 37 years of operation on Old Michigan Road. The last day was March 31. Owners Mary Beth Hamilton and her brother, Mike Hall, decided to close the Madison location because she plans to semi-retire, according to a press release.
Hamilton plans to continue to manage the family’s Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Seymour, Ind., while Hall will continue to manage The Pines in Seymour. The Pines in Seymour was first opened in 1950 by Harold and Margaret Hall. Their son, Joe, grew the business to various locations and also became a KFC franchisee. Hamilton and Mike Hall continued the family business into a third generation of owners.
Meantime, RoundAbout has learned that John and Lori Heitz in January purchased the former Bistro One building at 122 E. Main St., Madison, from former owner and chef Nick Izamis. Izamis closed the restaurant last year due to health issues.
The Heitzes, of Madison, plan to open a bistro there to serve steak and seafood, plus a lunch of pub fare. This adds to the couple’s stable of other Madison eateries, which include Red Pepper Deli, Red Pepperoni, Red Peppermint and Red Roaster coffee shop.

Ford Lumber to close store for good in April

In a final note, RoundAbout learned in late March that Ford Lumber & Building Supply is slated to close its doors for good on April 11. No details were available and the owners, Dean and Debbie Ford, chose not to be interviewed about their decision.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.

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