Ask A Midwesterner: Alan Sternberg, James Beard Rising Star Chef Semi-Finalist


As the executive chef at Cerulean Restaurant, Alan Sternberg is not only creating some of the most innovative American fair in Indianapolis, but he’s making a name for himself on the national stage as well. This year, he received a James Beard award semi-finalist nomination for Rising Star Chef of the Year. In order to qualify for this category, a chef needs to be age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.

We put Chef Sternberg, through our 18-question ringer to see where his Midwest roots (and tastes) lie.


Favorite place in the Midwest?

I love Indy and always will. If I had to pick somewhere else in the Midwest, I’d probably pick Louisville or Chicago. Both great cities for really different reasons. Louisville just gives me a really good vibe every time I get to go down there. Chicago has an amazing food scene, but it never feels too big to me.


What temperature is considered warm enough for no coat?

60’s probably. My wife would probably disagree with me, but I’m always warm and she’s always chilly.


Favorite meal to cook?

I love making pizza with my kids. Seeing as I cook for a living, having that connection with my kids always feels special.


What’s a hidden gem in your city?

The IMA is amazing and worth a trip. The Cultural Trail has a ton to offer as far as restaurants, shops, and what not.


Local coffee shop of choice?

Sadly I rarely drink coffee. I’ve always done the energy drink thing but recently I’ve been shifting more to coffee.


Go-to pizza toppings?

Jalapeno and pepperoni


Soda or Pop?



Duck Duck Goose or Duck Duck Grey Duck?

Never heard of the Grey Duck so Goose I guess.


Favorite condiment?

Ketchup. My cooks and I argue over this all the time. Apparently, they’re mustard people.


Favorite local brewery?

3 Floyds Brewing Co.


Can you name all the ingredients in puppy chow?

Honestly I’ve never made it so no. I suspect I could figure out something close though.


How many shovels do you own?

Currently zero, but you never know when that could change.


Favorite food on a stick?

Can’t remember the last thing I ate on a stick.


Skiing or wake boarding?



Signature drink order?

Redbreast 12 year and I get along pretty well. Other than that, I’ve got a growing obsession with Champagne.


Mississippi River or Great Lakes?

Great Lakes


Favorite Midwestern artist?



Favorite building in the Midwest?

I don’t know their names, but I really like walking around downtown Chicago and just looking at some of the craftsmanship that was put into those buildings. I guess I don’t have a favorite per se, but I just really like looking at old buildings. There’s something mysterious about them and I want to know who’s been there, what’s happened there, and what it was like when they were built. Also, I end up trying to picture what a restaurant would look like in them because I never stop thinking about food and the restaurant.



Images compliments of Audra Sternberg Photography

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