Mean Streets of Hollywood to Sweet Noblesville, Indiana

Noblesville Historic Courthouse, built between 19877 and 1879.

Noblesville Main Street’s Executive Director, Kate Baker, Shares Her Love for the Midwest Town and Her Mom’s Chili Recipe

Executive Director Kate Baker, Noblesville Main Street.
Kate Baker, Courtesy of Kate Baker

I met Indiana-born Kate Baker, Executive Director of Noblesville Main Street, at a catering company’s tasting launching into weddings and events. I’m from Los Angeles and Kate lived there for a decade, too. At different times – I’m more than a decade older – we both worked in entertainment media relations, sending out screeners and ensuring celebs hit their red-carpet marks at events for studios and productions. She worked on the Emmys around television, and I worked on Oscar campaigns. We trundled with the photogs at the Golden Globes’ step and repeat, where the broadcast and cinema stars drink together. We even share a few of the same media friends on social media. Of course, there are hundreds of events in Los Angeles daily, with more journalists covering sports, fashion, and entertainment than anywhere in the world. Yet, far from the Hollywood klieg lights and the narcissistic movie and television industries, we found friendship in Indianapolis.

While I gingerly tread into the writing world – still trying to find my footing after nearly four years of living in Indiana – Kate found a calling into a tourism leadership role in one of the most vibrant and charming communities in the state, Noblesville. There is a resemblance to Napa County’s St. Helena, a delicious walking district outside of San Francisco, known for superb dining and charming independent shops to this sweet burg, roughly 45 minutes north of Indianapolis. They both offer a daytime destination from cities of approximately the same size and have more sole proprietorships than chains. According to Best Places, Indy has a slightly larger population than the Bay Area: 880,104 vs. 865,933, respectively. One of my favorite eating experiences in the 19th state occurred at 9th Street Bistro, where Chef Samir Mohammad creates superb dishes inspired by travels, he and his wife, Rachel Firestone, take annually.  

A promotional post for Salsa on The Square in Noblesville Indiana.
A promotional post for Salsa on The Square in Noblesville Indiana. Courtesy Noblesville Main Street.

In 2019, Kate began overseeing multifaceted roles such as development, marketing, and other destination executive functions. Beyond focusing on the town’s renewal, which has more than 70,000 individuals, she practices her first love, music, volunteering as the assistant music director at Noblesville First United Methodist Church. 

“Noblesville is not just my hometown; it’s the crucible that shaped my aspirations,” Baker said when she took the role. “As a denizen of Old Town, I cherish the opportunity to actively shape the evolution of our downtown culture. Noblesville Main Street epitomizes the rich tapestry of our city’s history, vibrancy, and irreplaceable charm. I eagerly anticipate the myriad ways in which we can bolster our community, ensuring it remains an inclusive haven for all.”

Buy Noblesville merchandise here: T-shirts, drinkware and even a snow globe!


What is your favorite food to cook at home? My mom’s chili recipe, which I make a little spicier. It is by far my favorite comfort food!

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Cheese, eggs, and milk. I realize now I’m addicted to dairy! (But don’t tell anyone about the container of frosting kept hidden in the side of the door for those moments you just need a taste of sweet. Ha ha ha!)

What marked characteristic do you love in a person you share a meal with? When I share a meal with someone, I love seeing their joy in the foods they love. In Noblesville, we have several amazing places that offer unmatched culinary experiences. My favorite thing to do is take someone to one of these places for the first time. I love to see them take their first bite and have that eyes-closed moment as they experience the taste sensation created by fresh ingredients, culinary expertise, and, above all, love.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you share a meal? I don’t enjoy sharing space with someone unwilling to try new things or dine without gratitude.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine, wine, wine, wine!

Who is your favorite cookbook author? One of my best friends from college is from Puerto Rico. I have spent quite a bit of time there and was given a cookbook called “Puerto Rico True Flavors” by Wilo Benet. “This book has helped me create some really beautiful meals and has been a favorite of mine for more than 2 decades!     

What is your favorite kitchen or bar tool? I cannot live without my espresso maker. Does this count?

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian – and because basic pasta dishes make me feel empowered as its one of the only things I confidently make! My skills in the kitchen could be improved.

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood or tofu? Beef, but this girl loves surf and turf!

Favorite vegetable? A tie between broccoli, brussels sprouts, and butternut squash.

What chef or culinary person do you most admire? Jessica Walls at Debbie’s Daughters. Her thoughtfulness into her baked goods, her celebration of family, and the importance she places on consistency and quality for every morsel of every cookie, cake, or loaf of bread make her and her sisters’ food so special. You can taste the love in every single bite.  

Photo of the interior of Debbies Daughters with a table and blue counter.
Inside Debbie’s Daughters, Noblesville Indiana. Courtesy, Debbie’s Dabughters

What food do you like the most? My favorite meal has a filet mignon, baked potato, and steamed broccoli. 

What food do you dislike the most? Mushrooms. I haven’t entirely made my peace with fungus, but there are exceptions to this: hibachi style is one of those for me.  

What is your favorite non-eating thing to do? Sing. I can’t imagine my life without music.

Whom do you most admire in food? My mom. There is nothing like homecooked meals by a parent/guardian who loves you.

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink in the Midwest? Absolutely depends on my mood, but the top places would be 9th Street Bistro, Debbie’s Daughters, Uptown Cafe, and The Nesst of Noblesville, with great memories at HollyHock Hill. 

Where is your favorite place to eat and drink outside the Midwest? This is a three-way tie, and all are in my old stomping grounds of Los Angeles: Palmeri Ristorante (Brentwood), Taverna Tony’s (Malibu), or Sugarfish (California).

What is your favorite restaurant? Impossible to pick just one! Currently, I can’t seem to stop craving 9th Street Bistro in Noblesville.

Moroccan Chicken, Courtesy of 9th Street Bistro
Moroccan Chicken, Courtesy of 9th Street Bistro

Who is/are the person/s with whom you would share your last meal? Last meal?! I can’t even fathom the last meal, let alone who I would invite! First thought would be my parents, but let’s be real – if it was my last meal, this would be a party including everyone I’ve ever loved. 

A Midwest Chili Recipe from Mary Baker, Kate’s Mom 

(Original recipe from my mom. I’ve made improvisations through the years in the heat and how I cook the meat, but this was a mother instructing her daughter who was newly on her own!)

What to buy at the store:

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 large can “Brooks” Mild Chili Beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 can Great Northern Beans
  • 2 large cans of Hunts Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 envelopes of Durkee Original Chili Seasoning (Kate usually does 1 mild and 1 hot pack)
  • 1 small box of “elbow” macaroni
  • 1 small bottle of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 medium “sweet” onion ~ chopped
  • 1 bag of shredded cheese (your choice: I usually get Monterey Jack…or a blend)
  • 1 bottle of tomato juice
  • 1 container of sour cream
  • Crackers of your choice: Oyster. Regular saltines or whatever.

What to have on hand:

  • A big pot to pour everything into and hold your chili
  • Strainer
  • Can or another saucepan to put strainer onto to catch drippings from the ground chuck. Don’t drain it into your sink. Your drainpipe will eventually get clogged and be just a mess to clean out.
  • Saucepan to cook macaroni in. 
  • Cutting board


1. Use your largest pot and pour all cans of beans and diced tomatoes into it. Put on a burner on very low heat.

2. Put half of the beef into a microwave-safe bowl and break it apart with a fork. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Take it out and continue to break it up with a fork. Mike for another 2 minutes. Take it out and do the fork thing again till it’s the consistency you like. If the meat is still pink, cook it in one-minute intervals until it is fully cooked. When cooked through, dump it into the strainer and drain well. Put back in the bowl, and put one envelope of the seasoning mix into the ground chuck and mix in with fork. Pour beef into the tomato/bean mixture in the pot. Repeat with the rest of the meat.

3. Stir beef, tomatoes, and beans together and keep on low heat.

4. Fill a medium-sized saucepan about 3/4 full with hot water. Bring to a rolling boil on top of the stove. When boiling, add about 1 1/2 cups of macaroni. Turn the heat down, but continue to boil, stirring with a fork fairly often. After about 5 minutes, periodically take out one piece of macaroni….let it cool a bit….and taste it. When it is done to your liking, drain the pasta in the strainer. This time directly into the sink.

5. Pour drained pasta into the pot. Stir. Cover.

6. Chop onion and put it into a small Tupperware-type container with the lid snapped on. Put into fridge.

7. Cook chili on low heat, stirring every few minutes for about a half hour. Reduce heat to “simmer” and keep covered for as long as you want without overcooking it.

8. If the chili is too thick for your liking, add some tomato juice….a little at a time….until it is the thickness you want.

9. Serve with onions, cheese, sour cream and crackers.

10. Enjoy!!

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