As we head into the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500, we’re looking at one of the #ThisIsMay events leading up to the big day – Rev!

For the third consecutive year, Ivy Tech Indianapolis culinary alum Cole Padgett showed off his expertise as the executive chef at Taxman Hospitality Group

“It feels great to have your hard work recognized in this way,” Padgett, ‘17, said of his continued involvement with one of the city’s biggest events of the year. “I really appreciate the company I work for and how they lift me up and celebrate my culinary skills.” 

Rev, an extravagant fundraiser for IU Health at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, featured over 80 Hoosier chefs this year, each creating locally sourced dishes that best represent a pre-selected driver. And this year, Padgett was paired with Conor Daly, an avid vegetarian. 

Padgett has been creating more vegetarian dishes and appreciated the challenge, making a vegetarian rendition of a slider with chipotle hummus and cabbage ceviche on brioche. He also prepared a grilled tenderloin option for the meat eaters at Rev, sourced by Fischer Farms Natural Foods.

From Ivy Tech to Executive Chef

In under seven years, Padgett went from an Ivy Tech Indianapolis culinary arts graduate to being the executive chef creating the standardized food menus for all three Taxman Brewing locations. 

His journey into becoming a culinarian began in high school while working in a pizza place. 

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I knew that I enjoyed the food atmosphere and being in a kitchen,” Padgett said. 

In his mid-20s, Padgett began researching culinary schools when he came across Ivy Tech’s Hospitality Administration program in downtown Indianapolis. 

“I was impressed with everything I was learning about the culinary program at Ivy Tech; it seemed like the most accredited place to go,” Padgett remembered thinking. “It spoke volumes to me that Ivy Tech had an entire building dedicated to culinary on the Indianapolis campus.”

Padgett says he learned more than he initially thought he would about the culinary arts at Ivy Tech. 

“I loved learning about the business aspects of food,” Padgett shared. “Ivy Tech really prepared me for the restaurant industry and set the bar pretty high for what the expectations would be as someone just starting in the industry, and I think that truly sets me apart from others.”

Padgett appreciated instructors like Richard Edwards, Alex Spicer, and Jeff Bricker, who he says helped set him up for success. 

“Chef Edwards was inspiring because he was always really laid back and calm. He was great at explaining so many aspects of the restaurant industry and was very knowledgeable. And, I appreciated his demeanor because chefs get a bad rep for being loud and obnoxious, and he was the exact opposite of that, which I thought was extremely cool,” Padgett said. 

After graduating in 2017, Padgett was hired by Taxman Brewing in Fortville as a line cook and has been climbing the ladder ever since. After two years, he moved up to sous chef. Then, two years later, he was promoted to executive chef. 

“My goal is to stick with the company … keep growing my skills and getting to that next level,” Padgett said. 

‘You’re going to get in the weeds, but stick with it:’ Advice for aspiring chefs

Not unusual in the industry, Padgett finds others interested in becoming a chef often wondering if culinary school is the way to go. 

His answer is, “Culinary school is 100% worth it!”

“There is so much that I learned in culinary school that would’ve taken me so long to learn if I just relied on real-world experience,” Padgett said. 

Padgett says there is no denying that culinary school offers invaluable knowledge and skill sets. On the other hand,  it cannot replicate the on-the-job training that a professional kitchen provides. 

“My biggest advice is to get a job working in a kitchen while you’re in school. Get your foot in the door, even if it means being a dishwasher. As long as you’re in the back of the house and observing how it goes down in the kitchen, the action, seeing it live, you will be setting yourself up for success,” Padgett advised. 

Padgett says working in this industry takes hard work and passion.

“You’re going to get in the weeds. And there will be times when it feels like you will never get out of them,” he said. “But stick with it. Keep focused and keep doing what you know is right.”

Restaurants are a team effort, comprised of many facets, and remembering to give yourself grace is a big component, Padgett says. 

“There are a lot of times in this business where you’ll feel like you’re giving it your all, and no one cares or sees it. It takes time and patience, so just stick with it, and you will find success,” Padgett said. 

You can find Padgett at the Taxman CityWay Gastropub located downtown at 310 S. Delaware St. Learn more about the Hospitality Administration program at Ivy Tech and the more than a dozen hospitality career pathways to choose from within the program at

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.