Chef Zac Young on growth, Indian food, and the world’s best frozen pizza.

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Chef Zac Young has been cooking professionally for over fifteen years in some of the Ohio River Valley’s most iconic restaurants. He began his career in Louisville, first as a line cook at Ramsi’s before climbing the ranks at Jack Fry’s, Ward426, and Marketplace. 

Chef Zac was hired by The Exchange Pub + Kitchen as a full time executive chef, and then the unthinkable happened – the outbreak of the corona epidemic shut down the restaurant industry only a matter of days before he was scheduled to start.

Rather than sit on his chef coat at home, Chef Zac took the time to build a new menu for the Exchange which pulled from his extensive culinary influences. From these inauspicious beginnings, Chef Zac has been challenged to lead a restaurant many see as an institution in Southern Indiana food, all while navigating the challenges of a post-epidemic world. 

The Exchange is proud to introduce Chef Zac Young to southern Indiana, and has been extremely grateful for his leadership and talent during a time when it was needed most. Here’s a fun Q & A to give you a glimpse at Chef Zac’s personality! We hope you welcome him with open arms!

What is your favorite food?

I really love lamb saag. Rich Indian food with fresh herbs and spices, loads of turmeric, mustard greens, tomatoes and fresh naan bread. But also Jack’s Frozen Pizza. It’s absolutely the best frozen pizza, period.

How has your love for Indian food influenced your menu at The Exchange?

We have a pretty interesting dish on the menu; the mussels tikka masala. Tikka masala is most peoples introduction to Indian food, so its nice and approachable but so delicious. We’re making garlic cilantro naan bread in house, now.  I’ve personally never seen mussels tikka masala but for me, the combination of seafood and tikka masala makes a lot of sense given India’s geographical relationship with the ocean.

What is your favorite word?

Am I allowed to say it? I better not.

What is your least favorite word?

Can’t. Won’t. Anything that spreads negativity. 

If you’re welcomed into the Pearly Gates by St. Peter, what do you hope the man upstairs says to you?

“Barely made it.”

What’s next?

I just want to continue to grow. I want to keep travelling, keep learning more about regional cuisines. I’m fascinated by Moracco, India, and South America – a lot of travelling and personal growth.

You can come see Chef Zac Young cooking at The Exchange Pub + Kitchen nightly. 
For a look at his summer lunch menu, click here.
For a look at his summer dinner menu, click here.
For reservations, click here.
To order online, click here.

New cocktails are what’s shaking at The Exchange!

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cocktails in new albany

New cocktails are shaking up at The Exchange.

Seeing Zach Ruoff walk behind the bar is kind of like watching your favorite musician pick up a guitar. There’s a moment where the performance starts, a sort of jolt into action, a familiarity built over years behind the stick that lets you know immediately – this is a professional.

The soft, afternoon light floods through the patio bar windows, creating a perfect spotlight for making, and drinking, deliciously fresh handcrafted cocktails. Today’s tasting is a relatively new drink Zach is particularly fond of – The Creamy Colada. 

cocktails in new albany

“We joke around and call these our Patio Pounders, but they really are.”

Of the new summer menu, 2 drinks featuring sparkling wine as a dominant flavor profile. Another is built around the refreshing effervescence of champagne. There’s also a new frozen bourbon and frozen margarita station (spoiler: they’re amazing). “We joke around and call these our Patio Pounders, but they really are that,” Zach said. “All the same, guests can still find favorites like Exchange Old Fashioned, The Cocktail with No Name, and other stiff drinks on the menu.”

Zach, now the Bar Manager at The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, is one of the longest tenured members of owners Ian & Nikki Hall’s ever growing staff, having started with the company when they were a small gastropub on Grant Line Rd in 2010. “It was a small crew back then and we had to do whatever it took to make it work,” Zach said. “We were pulling a lot of our influences from London based gastropubs back then. There’s still a lot of what we did on Grant Line that shapes who we are today.”

cocktails in new albany

Zach has since continued to grow with the company. He’s met his wife here, created countless cocktails, was an operator at Longboard’s, and now trains and manages eager young bartenders in the ways of mixology. But it’s behind the bar, a shaker in hand, surrounded by friends and local barflys, where Zach feels that old, familiar calling. 

You can find The Exchange Pub + Kitchen’s current cocktail list here.

You can make reservations for The Exchange Pub + Kitchen here.

Cocktails in New Albany


Lunch Menu

Monday – Saturday: 11am – 4pm
Sunday : Noon – 4pm

Dinner Menu

Monday – Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday & Saturday: 4pm-11pm
Sunday: 4pm – 9pm

Bar open till 11:30 Friday & Saturday