BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
When Dave and Krissy Tallent first met, working in the kitchen of Upland Brewing Company’s restaurant 12 years ago, they never imagined that together they’d start a revolution in Bloomington fine dining. All they knew was that they shared a dream of learning more about haute cuisine—and each other.
The two chefs turned out to be a match made in culinary heaven, as Krissy gravitated toward pastry preparation and Dave focused on entrées and appetizers. By the time they were both accepted into the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., their romantic and professional partnership was a fait accompli. The idea of returning to Bloomington, however—let alone starting their own restaurant—had yet to enter their minds.
“At the time, Bloomington didn’t have anything like this,” says Krissy, 33, indicating the elegant surroundings in the AAA four-diamond-rated Restaurant Tallent. “We expected that after school we’d have to work for someone in a larger city.”
Inspiration came the summer after they started training at the institute. One bright July morning, the couple made their first-ever trip to the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market. What they found there, says Dave, 37, “absolutely blew my mind.”
“I couldn’t believe the size of the market and the quality of the produce,” he says. The bounty made him think of the Slow Food movement, with its emphasis on buying ingredients directly from small farmers—an effort that had only begun to gather steam in New York. “I was shocked that approach could be a possibility here,” he says.
So, in what Krissy describes as a “huge leap of faith,” the pair opened Restaurant Tallent in 2003 (marrying that same year). From the start, they have relied on local, seasonal ingredients, initiating a Slow Food shockwave that has spread throughout the town.
The use of fresh, local produce enhancing their artistic and inventive creations has been noticed outside the state. In addition to appearing in Saveur Magazine, receiving high praise from the Chicago Tribune, and regularly appearing on the list of nominees for the esteemed James Beard Foundation Award, they’ve also traveled to both ends of the country—and, most recently, Costa Rica, at the behest of the U.S. ambassador there—to apply their Hoosier artistry to high-profile private dinners.
Despite the long days and hectic schedule, the Tallents say they couldn’t be happier. “I love every part of it,” grins Dave.