After training with the likes of Greg Hardesty — one of Indy’s biggest culinary rock stars — Abby Merris now finds herself dishing some of the best food the Hoosier state’s ever seen at Tom Batista’s Bluebeard. Whether she’s serving up a duck confit or grilled octopus or putting an insanely original spin on chicken wings or a King David dog, the care and craft that Merris exhibits is a wonder to behold. That kind of flexibility makes for a well-deserved win in the “cook for you for life” arena — we’re pretty sure Merris could find a way to make cereal and milk somehow revelatory. Way to go, Abbi.
635 Virgina Ave., 686-1580, www.bluebeardindy.com
2nd: Neal Brown — Libertine, Pizzology
3rd: Greg Hardesty — Recess