Chef Regina Mehallick has always emphasized the use of local ingredients to deliver rustic yet contemporary dishes to her dining audiences. At R2GO Specialty Market, the same emphasis on fresh, local ingredients is evident in take-away meals, soups, salads and side dishes.
Regina grew up in Beaverdale, PA, developing a love of cooking by looking over her Mum’s shoulder in the home kitchen. She took her first cooking class at age 19 in Washington, D.C., learning techniques ranging from Jewish pastries to savory dishes. Regina enrolled in culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in South Carolina and spent several years working in catering and small boutique restaurants in Charleston.
There, the seeds were first sown for operating a market. “I wanted to open a little food and wine store, but realized working in a kitchen was more important. The independent restaurants were great for learning about all types of foods and I did help with the start-up of an Italian market in Charleston.”
Relocating to Scotland, Regina accepted a chef du partie position in an eclectic fusion-style eatery in inner-city Glasgow. She attended Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland and Regaleali, a winery and cooking school in Sicily. At the Yorke Arms in North Yorkshire, England, she served as a Sous Chef, preparing the award-winning country inn’s distinctive contemporary British food.
Returning to the U.S., Regina and husband Jim moved to Indianapolis in 2000 and in 2001, R bistro was born. Both the chef and her restaurant received critical acclaim – from neighborhood newspapers to The New York Times. NUVO Newsweekly awarded Regina its Cultural Vision Award in 2008 and later that year, she represented Slow Food Indy in Turin, Italy for the world meeting of Slow Food International. Regina has been an active member of the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization and was awarded the Catherine Brandel Fellowship in 2009.
Her cookbook, “Regina’s Seasoning Table” was published in 2008. Regina was a James Beard semi-finalist from 2010-2014. She received the coveted Ross Farris award in 2013, and was recognized as the first local chef to actively source ingredients locally and feature the producers on R bistro’s menu. She is a member of the Chefs Collaborative, an organization that celebrates local food and fosters a more sustainable food supply.
Fast-forward to late 2014 and R2GO Specialty Market, “I felt there was a need for quality take-away food and that market idea had been simmering since those days in Charleston. At R2GO, I cook food for customers to enjoy and also have more time to interact with them, offer suggestions, cooking tips and better know my neighbors by staying active in the community.”
Regina also dispatches her expansive knowledge by offering cooking classes in the specially-designed kitchen at R2GO. The hands-on, chef-taught classes range from Greek, Irish, Italian and other geographic regions, to sauces, knife-skills, 30-minute meals and farmers market-inspired dinners.
Managing R2GO is different, yet similar to running the bistro, which Regina closed in early 2016 after 15 successful years. “I spend a lot of time considering what to offer that will be quick, easy and seasonal for customers to take away. And just as we did at the restaurant, we use local produce, meats, cheeses and specialty items – both to support Indiana businesses and cut down on our carbon foot print.”