Chef Michael R. Vlasich’s plate has been full since he became the executive chef at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown in May. The award-winning chef oversees the two of the best Indianapolis restaurants located conveniently inside the hotel, Circle City Bar & Grille and Champions Sports Bar, as well as all Marriott banquet facilities. Vlasich places an extreme amount of importance on food design and styling. He also feels that it is important to offer a wide variety of food to appeal to guests visiting from all over the world.
“My family and I are very diversified in what we eat,” he explained. “We love ethnic food and are always trying different cuisine.”
Vlasich is bringing this diversity to Circle City Bar & Grille.
“We’re looking at changing the menu three or four times per year,” he said. “Different produce and meats become available as the seasons change, and people are always changing their styles of eating.”
Popular items on the current dinner menu include the red snapper, wild salmon, grouper, and new york strip. Circle City Bar & Grille has a reputation on the Indianapolis dining circuit for using local meats, cheeses, and produce. Currently, Vlasich buys proteins and produce from several Indiana farmers to provide an indigenous, heartland dining experience.
The chef’s experiences from California to Florida have influenced a fusion-style of cooking—a cutting-edge technique that blends different ingredients and cooking styles.
“Fusion cooking involves using foods that typically aren’t matched together, such as mixing Vietnamese and French cuisines,” said Vlasich.
Currently, the chef is experimenting in the kitchen by pairing Mediterranean and American foods and styles of cooking. The Circle City Bar & Grille menu is featuring a softshell crab with butternut ravioli and roasted corn with wild mushrooms in paprika oil.
From a humble start 25 years ago at a small Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh, Penn., to becoming executive chef of the kitchens at Indianapolis’ largest hotel, Vlasich has experienced richness in his culinary career.
Vlasich spent six years at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and garnered many awards for his culinary expertise, including:
Before joining PGA National Resort, Executive Chef Michael Vlasich was the executive chef for the Miramar Sheraton Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. A 10-year veteran with Sheraton hotels, Vlasich also served as executive chef at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and Conference Center, Steamboat Springs, Colo., and executive sous chef at the Sheraton Grand on Harbor Island, San Diego, Calif.
Chef Vlasich is a 1983 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y. and a Certified Executive Chef by the American Culinary Federation, recognized by the Department of Labor as professional status. In 1998, Vlasich was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs, of which there are only 600 members worldwide. The American Academy of Chefs is an honor society of the national headquarters of the American Culinary Federation.
On an average day, Vlasich cooks for more than 2,000 people. He has also cooked for many high-profile people, including three different past-presidents of the United States.
“I’ve cooked for athletes, movie stars and political dignitaries in my career,” he said. “But regardless of who I’m cooking for, my favorite part of the job is pleasing people’s palates with food,” he said.
Unveiled in February 2001, the two restaurants in the Downtown Marriott are premier Indianapolis fine dining destinations. Both have stepped out of the mold of traditional hotel restaurants and are recognized as hot spots among local residents.