Indiana’s Top Chefs Spotlighting Richelle And Kevin Rider

Apt advice for divvy in Carmel, with its sampling-sized offerings. Smaller than the usual to promote the idea of sharing – to “divvy it up.” The sleek, adult restaurant/bar in Carmel City Center opened four years ago. Chef Richelle Rider – who wears a bandana tied around her head instead of a chef hat
– says she can remember always wanting to be in the kitchen. “I loved cooking. My mom says that when I was around 4, I’d tug at her pant legs until she’d get me up on a chair so I could see what she was doing.”

She grew up in northwest Indiana, a veritable United Nations of nationalities that had come to work the steel mills, and there were family trips to Chicago. “I fell in love with the people and the food,” she says. When she was in high school, she’d convince her parents to invite friends to eat at their house so she could host dinner parties.

It was the health industry that provided culinary training in nutrition and dietetics and, she says, gives her an understanding of those with special dietary needs. She worked in a series of catering and restaurant jobs and taught cooking classes. In 1998 she helped open Scholars Inn in Bloomington.

At the same time, in Carmel, Kevin “Woody” Rider opened Woody’s Restaurant in a 1913 Carnegie library complete with 15 steps to climb to the front door, upstairs dining areas tucked among the library shelves filled with old books, and a downstairs bar a la “Cheers.” Its cuisine: comfort classic food.

Richelle and Kevin met at a wine supplier’s tasting. Somewhere down the line, she says, “he lost a chef for a minute.” She offered to step in and, well, they’ve been together since. The couple married in 2005. He handles the business, she the food. When they eat out, they go to several restaurants and at each, share a little. It’s the premise behind divvy’s. A definite departure from Woody’s, its cuisine is American contemporary. “You get to try a lot of things and you’re not heavily invested in any one,” Kevin says.

As for dining choices, Richelle says, “Eat with your heart. You want it to be a personal thing. You want to be happy.” When you want the tried and true, get that. When you’re feeling more adventurous, order something you haven’t had before.

Their philosophy is to buy the best, looking at fresh and local when they can. “You have to be realistic of where you are,” Richelle says about ingredients. With a global market, it’s become easier to get high quality, fresh foods that may be from a distance.