Indy Like a Local: Ben Hardy

Who is Ben?

Owner of The Gallery Pastry Shop

Q. What piqued your interest about being a pastry chef? 

A. My mom inspired me. She would task us with making cookies. I have two brothers, so someone would mix, someone would scoop, and then someone would bake. That was really where I began baking. From there, my guidance counselor gave me a flier about a cooking competition, after which I started searching for more information about pastry schools.  

Q. What’s your favorite creation on the menu at Gallery Pastry Shop?  

A. It is a tough decision between the croissant and the French macarons. Our French macarons and individual pastries are our most popular items, but the amount of time and playing with recipes for the croissant and macs has been very rewarding. I have finally created a product that I am very proud of and is closest to what I think is the best representation of European pastry.  

Ben Hardy
Q. Are there any other chefs in town (pastry or otherwise) whose work you admire?    

A. Steven Oakley. I think his food is remarkable and his style is refreshing to me. I don’t know him well, but what I know of him I appreciate, and I appreciate the way he carries himself.  I think a lot of young and inexperienced chefs could learn a lot from him. Michelle Matiya, executive chef of the Conrad Indianapolis. Not only is her food absolutely phenomenal, but her drive and execution to run a tight ship is inspirational. Last, but most certainly not least and who I owe much of my career to, is Chef Tony Hanslits, who is not only one of the best chefs I know, but is also one of the most selfless chefs and people that I know. The level of pastry chef that I am now, I owe to Chef Tony. His style of taking the very best and simple ingredients and cooking them with love is inspirational. It is the style of chef that I strive to be and I am lucky to have worked under him.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants in Indy and why?

A. Oakley’s Bistro. I think that for some reason it isn’t talked about enough. The food is consistently on point. Steven Oakley takes great care of the ingredients that he is providing. Bluebeard, [Chef] Abbi’s take on refined comfort food never disappoints. Not only is the food great, but I have always had amazing service as well. I never leave hungry, and what’s not to love about Abbi? I also have to hand it to Cunningham Restaurant Group. You can find me at BRU Burger a couple of times a week. Kayla Morrison, GM of the downtown BRU, and her staff take such great care of us. It is refreshing to go sit at the bar and enjoy consistently great food and drinks after a long day in the shop. 

Q. What must-attend events are on your calendar each year?

A. Rev and Zoobilation are typically events that I attend, but this year we are excited to be a part of Rev. I also enjoy events with the ISO. Fantastic Food Fest has been on our list the past two years, and we have really enjoyed being a part.    

Q. What outdoor places do you like to visit?  

A. Well, I don’t have too much spare time for fresh air since we started the business, so our patio at the shop is the closest I get to that now! The Monon Trail is right outside our door, which is a huge bonus. The gardens at the IMA are also a beautiful place to visit. 

Ben Hardy
Q. What places do you think fly under the radar in Indy?  

A. I am a huge fan of Dorman Street, which happens to be a block from where I live, so I love it there. I am biased to our neighbors here at 54th and the Monon. They are all independently owned boutique shops – Nicole-Taylor's Pasta Market & BackRoom Eatery, Locally Grown Gardens, Posh Petals, Walter Knabe Studios, Surroundings, Mass Ave Toys ... the list goes on, and you could spend all weekend visiting the shops in this area.  

Q. Pretend you have one day to spend however you’d like in Indy. What do you do, eat, and see?  

A. First, I would take a motorcycle ride around downtown, and from there, brunch! Probably at Mesh on Mass, which has a consistently good brunch and half-off bottles. (I wouldn’t be able to ride my motorcycle after that, however!) From there, probably playing basketball at the court by my house on the near eastside, followed by an outdoor shooting range. My favorite is Tactical Firearms Training. To finish the night, a concert at The Lawn at White River State Park and dinner and drinks at Bluebeard. And to really end the night, the patio at Dorman Street.


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