Always something new

Chef Ryan O’Neill of Sage’s Simple Syrups joins The Artisans’ Fare. (Photo by Dawn Pearson)

Chef Ryan O’Neill of Sage’s Simple Syrups joins The Artisans’ Fare. (Photo by Dawn Pearson)

Unique, handcrafted items will be featured at the upcoming Artisans’ Fare

By Carla Howie

Is it a cocktail or a mocktail if it’s made without the alcohol? Either way, it’s even more delicious when you pour a simple syrup on it.

A chocolate milkshake was too ordinary, vanilla too plain – so chef Ryan O’Neill concocted a grapefruit milkshake and presented it to his mother when was 5 years old. Although he was not a professional chef at that time, one could say the spirit of a chef was in the making.

Born in Indiana, his career has taken him around the world and back again and this year O’Neill is one of the artisans making his debut at the Sullivan Munce Artisans’ Fare.



Professionally trained at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu, O’Neill interned as a chef at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Ariz., and began his career there. It was also in Scottsdale that he met his wife, Byrna.

“We travelled around the world through our Four Seasons connection and landed at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Although my wife is from Philly, we eventually moved back to Indiana, which is home for me,” he said.

With their dream to start a family in Indiana, O’Neill decided to abstain from alcohol. Looking for other beverage options besides cola and iced tea, his imagination for flavorful options came into full bloom. For a year he experimented with a variety of ingredients such as peach and lavender, mango and ginger, basil, and cucumber until they produced the right balance and concentration. To confirm his vision for a new fusion of beverages, his family and friends were his test pilots.

Within the same year, O’Neill and his wife had a daughter, Sage, and their business also was born.



Now residing in Whitestown, O’Neill’s Sage’s Simple Syrup is a fast growing, popular line of syrups that encourages you think outside of the box. Imagine a piece of freshly baked pound cake with a drizzle of mango ginger or quenching a thirst with a lime mint mojito. When asked about what the future holds for Sage’s Simple Syrup, O’Neill said he is creating a line of syrups for brown liquors such as mango chutney which will pair well with a warm brandy. He also would like to offer a champagne topper including the flavor of hibiscus.

“The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination,” O’Neill said. This year his syrup will be featured as a champagne topper at the Artisans’ Fare.

The Artisans’ Fare, the largest fundraising event for the Sullivan Munce Cultural Center, is ushering in their fourth year of celebrating the holiday season with the return of many favorite Indiana food and beverage artists. Visual artists who create food-related art in pottery, wood and glass will be there to satisfy an art collector or one who just enjoys adding something beautiful to their home.



What keeps the event fresh and exciting is the enthusiasm bringing the Artisan’s Fare to the community. Months of preparation were a labor of love for this year’s chairwomen. Patricia Scott, Marla Misamore and Lee Anne Shiller carefully selected the 30 artisans for their small-batch, handcrafted and high quality products that are not found in typical stores.

“I absolutely love seeing people have a good time and bringing them together in community. It is fitting to use food, which is so social, and the Sullivan Munce, which is so critical to our community to stage this special event,” Scott said.

Keeping the tradition of the Friday Night Preview party, shoppers will have the ambiance of live jazz music while leisurely mingling and chatting with the artisans about their craft. In addition, hors d’oeuvers and samples of wine and craft beer will be available as well as O’Neill’s champagne toppers.

Growing in popularity are examples of culinary delights created from a makeshift kitchen in the back of a truck. Something new this year is the introduction of food truck artisans lining the streets in front of the cultural center on Saturday.

Children will be busy making crafts as parents shop on Saturday; maybe something to hang on a tree or put inside someone’s stocking.

A returning favorite will be tablescape presentations by Palmer Kelley Designs and 5:30 Resale, held at 11 a.m. and 1

p.m. to showcase traditional and vintage designs.

“Whether you are looking for something new in the food realm or you’re looking for wood utensils, cutting boards or ceramic serving dishes, you can find it all at the Sullivan Munce Artisans Fare,” Shiller said.

“This is a great event, not only for the SullivanMunce, but for the Zionsville community,” Misamore said.



Meet Chef Ryan O’Neill

Resides: Whitestown

Education: Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu

Business: Sage’s Simple Syrup

Family: Wife, Bryna; daughter, Sage, age 1


Artisans’ Fare Preview Party

Sullivan Munce Cultural Center

205-225 W. Hawthorne St.


Nov. 22

6 to 9 p.m.

$50 per person ($40 tax deductible)

$200 Artisan Sponsorship includes 2 tickets

Tickets online at or contact the center at 873-4900

Nov. 23

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

$5.00 for adults age 12 and over

Preview party ticket holders admitted free.

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