Faculty Mentors Inspire Award-Winning Chef

Alumnus Joe Miller looks to follow the example of those who taught him

Joe Miller

Joe Miller’s interest in the culinary arts began when he was 14 years old and worked for an Indianapolis catering company. He decided he wanted to become a professional chef and chose to study at Ivy Tech Community College because it offered an affordable and reputable culinary program close to home. What truly inspired him, however, were the faculty members he met along the way.

“Jeff Bricker, the current program director, stands out as the face and voice of the culinary program,” says Miller.

Miller had many other mentors along the way, including Alex Darvishi, the executive chef at Meridian Hills Country Club, who gave him a job as a line cook while he was enrolled at Ivy Tech. Miller eventually was promoted to sous chef and then executive chef.

“Darvishi taught me the importance of hard work and what it takes to be a successful chef,” Miller recalls.
Ivy Tech offered Miller the opportunity to travel to France for firsthand culinary experiences that expanded his passion and knowledge of food. The experience opened his eyes to the world standards for exceptional cuisine, and he uses many of the techniques he learned abroad in his current position.

“The ‘farm-to-table’ craze in restaurants across the United State is the French way of life,” Miller notes. Using high-quality, local ingredients to prepare simple and delicious meals is a French tradition that they pioneered for chefs worldwide.”

During his time at Ivy Tech, Miller was awarded the Edmond Gass Award for outstanding service in his hospitality career. The award is named after Chef Edmond Gass, who also served as executive chef at Meridian Hills Country Club, and—fittingly, given Miller’s experience in the program—awarded by the faculty. Miller says it was fulfilling to be honored by those he so greatly admired.

“I value the leadership they offered when I was a student, and their continued collegiality, encouragement, and support throughout my career,” says Miller.

In an effort to give back to young culinarians, Miller teaches culinary classes at Ivy Tech and serves on the College’s Hospitality Advisory Board. He also served as coach of the Indianapolis Junior Culinary Team. His intent was to relay the important skills he had learned at Ivy Tech to a new generation of aspiring chefs.

“I wanted my team to learn the importance of accountability, repetition, fluidity in culinary skills, teamwork, timing, and organization,” says Miller. “I hope their experience on the team installed the grit and passion they need to be truly successful chefs.”

In the end, the student has become the teacher—and foodies throughout central Indiana couldn’t be more grateful.

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