THE BUTCHER, THE BAKER,
THE CANDLESTICK MAKER
BY ERICA SAGON
Inspired by the nursery rhyme, we sought out the people who make it come to life in Indianapolis: a longtime butcher, a German bread baker and, yes, even a candle maker who is moved by food. Here, they share thoughts on their crafts, memorable summer meals and favorite spots to dine out.
Dave Rollins was a teenager when he started working at Kincaid’s,
his grandfather’s business. Now, Rollins owns the meat shop.
Photo by Liz Nicol.
For Dave Rollins, nothing beats a steak grilled over charcoal in the summer. There’s no question where it comes from: Kincaid’s Meat Shop, the family business since his grandfather opened its doors in 1921.
Today, Rollins and his wife, Vicki, own the traditional-style shop with a red awning at 56th and Illinois streets. Inside, butchers wearing red aprons use techniques passed down through three generations.
Rollins was about 17 years old when he began working for his father at Kincaid’s. He washed dishes and mopped floors before picking up the family trade.
“I learned from the old guys who were in their 70s,” Rollins says. “They took me under their wing.”
Today, Kincaid’s offers full lines of USDA prime and choice cuts of beef, plus sausage, rabbit, veal and wild game like elk. Lamb, buffalo, chicken and some beef come from Indiana farms.
During the winter holidays, customers come in for crown roasts, boneless stuffed Cornish game hen and hand-tied turkducken—that’s a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey.
Rollins says summer meals at his Noblesville home typically call for firing up the grill and preparing a couple sides without recipes.
“We still live on the farm, so we’re meat-and-potatoes kind of people,” Rollins says. “There’s nothing like some mashed potatoes and green beans out of the garden.
Preferred cut of beef:
Filet mignon, medium to medium rare.
Favorite place to dine out: Joseph Decuis, the restaurant in Roanoke that sources many of its ingredients from its own farm. It’s one of the few places where Rollins will order steak—the proprietors raise Wagyu cattle, which yields superbly marbled beef.
Best holiday in terms of food: Christmas, with a USDA prime standing rib roast, cooked medium rare.
Indy food scene: “It’s changing; it’s growing. We work with a lot of chefs … and we’re seeing a larger variety (of requests). People are branching into lamb, veal and buffalo,” he says.
5606 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis; 317-255-5497; lekincaidmeats.com
Alice Matsuo’s background is in chemistry, but she got hooked
on sourdough bread baking when she lived in Germany.
Photo courtesy of Alice Matsuo.
When Alice Matsuo lived in Germany, she fell in love with the country’s bread rolls, with crunchy crusts and soft, elastic insides. There, freshness is everything. The rolls are considered to be good only within three to four hours of baking, Matsuo says.
She was so enamored, in fact, that she enrolled in a three-year training and apprenticeship program and became a certified artisan baker. When her husband’s job landed the couple in Indianapolis in 2008, Matsuo wanted to share her love for traditional German bread and began looking for baking opportunities.
Today, she co-owns Brotgarten, a German bread and pastry business, and Perk Up Café in Broad Ripple (Brotgarten is housed within Perk Up). Her business partner is Jeanette Footman, who specializes in German pastries and is known for her Black Forest torte.
Matsuo’s specialty is German-style sourdough, which is made with rye, but she also bakes challah, focaccia and baguettes, all using artisan flour, never the bleached variety. Flaxseed, sunflower seeds and buckwheat from local producers are often used. Bread goes in the oven on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and is sold by the loaf. Perk Up’s menu features house-made bread in sandwiches and French toast.
Brotgarten breads are available at the Broad Ripple, Zionsville and Carmel farmers’ markets, too. On market days, baking begins at 2 or 3am to ensure the freshest bread for customers.
Matsuo, who is of Japanese and Brazilian heritage, earned a degree in chemistry before baking became her career, and she finds that the two fields are intertwined.
“For me, bread baking is really a science,” she says. “When I saw that I could use my chemistry background to bake bread, I realized that I could really put two things together.”
For a Japanese food fix in Indy:
One World Market, a Japanese grocery store that offers takeout food. “My favorite dish there is crispy tuna sushi,” Matsuo says.
Recipe she knows by heart: A brown rice salad that she learned from her host mother while living in Australia. It has chopped ginger, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pine nuts and dried fruit, and is seasoned with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Favorite place to travel for food: The Provence region in southern France. “It’s not only the food. Eating for them is really enjoying what they eat and who they eat with. It’s more complex than our eating,” she says.
6536 Cornell Ave.; 317-251-0033; perkupindy.com
THE CANDLESTICK MAKER
Food memories from Laura Cler’s (right) childhood have inspired a handful
of scents for the candle company that she co-owns with her mom, Lynn
Manley (left). Fig Leaf and Heirloom Tomato are among the varieties.
Photo courtesy of Linnea’s Lights.
Laura Cler’s earliest food memories begin at her grandmother’s house in northwest Indiana, where the backyard garden fed the family and a communal kitchen table was a draw for the multiple generations of women in her life. She recalls having fresh lemonade, homemade cookies and rhubarb pie, and picking green beans and tomatoes from the garden.
Those memories have inspired a handful of scents for Linnea’s Lights, the Carmel-based candle company that Cler owns with her mom, Lynn Manley. The candles are sold at Indianapolis shops and online (linneaslights.com for store locations).
Among the candles are Heirloom Tomato, Garden Mint and Fig Leaf. “The scent reminds me of having figs at the dinner table,” Cler says. “It brings back good memories.”
The names are simple, but the scents are complex. Each is blended with herbs—Pumpkin gets a dose of thyme, for example—which keeps the fragrances from being cloyingly sweet, Cler says. Linnea’s Lights began as a home-based business that Manley started with her late husband. The candles are still made in small batches, but their popularity has exploded: Their handcrafted yet polished feel has won over celebrities and national fashion- and home-magazine editors, who praise the sophisticated scents.
At home, Cler’s three children carry on their grandma’s love for cooking: They play restaurant, taking orders and whipping up dishes. Meanwhile, Manley’s backyard is filled with fruit trees, barrels of fresh herbs and a garden with grape tomatoes for her grandchildren to pick, echoing the family tradition.
Favorite Indy restaurants:
Miyagi’s for sushi (try the Diablo roll, Cler says); Café Patachou with her kids.
Summer produce she can’t get enough of: “We love nothing more than going into the garden and picking a tomato off the vine.”
Recipe she knows by heart: Bouillabaisse. A close friend from Belgium taught her how to make the fish stew.
Best holiday in terms of food: Thanksgiving, with her family gathered around a table of traditional dishes. “Thanksgiving to me reminds me of comfort.”