A few wishes on this Kentucky Derby Day

A view of the paddock from the fifth-floor balcony of Churchill Downs.
A view of the paddock from the fifth-floor balcony of Churchill Downs.

Happy Derby Day, readers. I hope you have fun, whether you’re at Churchill Downs or chilling in a patio chair in front of a grill (which I will be doing shortly). But first, a poem:

May you skip the mint juleps and go for straight bourbon.

May your benedictine sandwiches be especially verdant.

May you wear seersucker proudly and carry a Tide pen.

May you enjoy ribs, baked beans and coleslaw on a plate that doesn’t bend.

May you avoid smelling like smoke when you stand near the grill.

May you treat yourself to two slices of Derby pie, but only the real deal.

But here’s what matters most on this special day,

May your 140th Kentucky Derby be decadent and depraved.


Last-minute event alert: Taste of South Louisville at Churchill Downs, Saturday, Aug. 24

Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs, the location of Taste of South Louisville. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Blogger’s note: This is a guest post from reader Adam Price. Thanks, Adam!)


I spent last Saturday morning at the Beechmont open air (farmer’s) market talking about the 4th annual Taste of South Louisville to benefit South Louisville Community Ministries (SLCM). I spoke with a woman there who lamented that so many people have a negative perception of South Louisville, often formed without having spent much time here.

I suspect anyone who lives in South Louisville has encountered that at some point, and to be sure there are real poverty and crime issues. SLCM serves approximately 22,000 residents in zip codes 40214, 40215, 40208 and 40209, more than a quarter of those 22,000 live below the poverty line. We operate multiple Meals on Wheels routes, a food pantry, and offer direct assistance with utility, rent and medicine assistance. We also offer counseling through a partnership with Campbellsville University.  SLCM is working on the front lines to help those most in need and is making a real difference in people’s lives.

As I responded to the woman I spoke with on Saturday, the best way to combat that negative perception is to showcase the great things happening in our area. With a strong history of ethnic diversity, it is no surprise that many of the city’s best international restaurants reside in South Louisville.

This year, the Taste of South Louisville is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 24 at Churchill Downs Millionaire’s row from 6-8 p.m., tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids 5-11. There will be a silent auction that will include items like a football signed by AJ Green and an autographed Jennifer Lawrence poster. All proceeds go to benefit South Louisville Community Ministries.

Come have a great time, eat some wonderful food, and learn a little more about a great part of town, all for a good cause. You can find out more about our programs here or the taste of South Louisville here.

Participating Restaurants

Cardinal Hall of Fame Café                             PRP Pizza

DaLats Gateaux & Cafe                                 Rubbies

Flavours Catering                                         Seven Up/Snapple

Jimbos                                                       Shack in The Back

Kalisimbi                                                     Sunergos

Levy Restaurants at Churchill                          Terri Ann’s

Little Jerusalem                                            Tuscany

Main Street Deli                                            Vietnam Kitchen

Golden Grain Bakery                                      Khalil’s

Adam Price is a Louisville native, accountant at the University of Louisville, volunteer, and serves on the board of directors for South Louisville Community Ministries. He enjoys sports (especially UofL), the arts, craft beer and Kentucky bourbon…not in that order.

Enjoy sweet discounts during the final stretch of Hometown Tourist Celebration Month

The Kentucky Derby feels like it happened yesterday, but somehow we made it in spitting distance of June. Where did May go? Did we do a time warp?

Louisville, Kentucky Derby
I feel like the horses just raced last weekend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately, the month isn’t quite over, so we still have time to enjoy some of the perks of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Hometown Tourist Celebration. The purpose of the festivities is to get folks like me away from the computer and into the wilds of Kentuckiana to enjoy the local food and fun in our area. Plus, a lot of participating businesses will give you substantial discounts when you show your Kentucky, Indiana, local student or military ID.

Here are some of my favorite deals. Click here for a complete list of discounts.

What’s your favorite Hometown Tourist destination?

What are you eating this Kentucky Derby weekend?

English: Kentucky Derby, unknown date Permissi...
 Courtesy: Kentuckytourism.com. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You smell that? That mix of horse, bourbon and funnel cake? It’s Kentucky Derby in the air.

The Derby, aka the best two minutes in sports, is tomorrow at Churchill Downs, and the phillies run today in the Kentucky Oaks. These races cap off weeks of festivities in Louisville and the surrounding area.

But enough about the races. Let’s talk food.

I wrote a piece for WFPL’s blog that outlines some tips for finding getting into restaurants during this busy weekend. And I have some plans of my own that include trips to Queen of Sheba and Wild Eggs.

I want to hear from you guys. Where and what are you eating this Derby weekend?

For love of the Kentucky Derby: New takes on classic Derby dishes

This Saturday, Louisville will be the hot spot for horse racing with the running of the Kentucky Derby.

I love this time of the year. The city puts on its pretty face for the world. We host some (B-, C- and D-list) celebrities. And everyone just seems so excited to be a Louisvillian. That is, until you’re stuck in traffic because of road closings necessary for the Pegasus Parade.

In honor of the best two (or is it three?) minutes in sports, here are a few classic Kentucky recipes and some new takes on the originals. Enjoy, and happy Derby.

Everything is better in tiny portions.

Holy heck, they’ve made a cocktail into a cupcake. This restores my faith in humanity.

This is probably a lot lighter on the belly than a sandwich covered in Mornay sauce.

Kentucky’s homegrown soft drink gets an adult upgrade.

Emeril Lagasse loves Louisville, and so should you

Chef Emeril Lagasse cooks some pork chops, potato salad and cucumber cocktails during a demonstration Sunday during the Fork, Cork & Style festival at Churchill Downs.

Emeril Lagasse’s history with Louisville is as rich as the cherry cornbread pudding he created during his visit to Derby City.

The chef, TV host and creator of kickin’ it up a notch was in town Sunday for the inaugural Fork, Cork & Style festival at Churchill Downs. I had the opportunity to ask Emeril a few questions before his first cooking demonstration at the finish line of the Churchill Downs track.

In person, Emeril is more toned down than what viewers saw on Emeril Live, the show that catapulted the chef into superstardom. Instead, the Emeril I met reminded me of the man I watch on Essence of Emeril – passionate about food, but more approachable and subdued.

During my few minutes with the chef, I learned a lot about his relationship with Louisville, his charitable works and his desire to promote more farm-to-fork eating:

Emeril’s connection with Louisville goes way back. Emeril said he was on the board of Sullivan University “back in the day” (a gentleman never reveals his age, I guess). At the time, Lilly’s Bistro was the go-to spot for culinary innovation. Since then …

“Louisville has just evolved tremendously as an American city,” Emeril said. The chef, who has 12 restaurants of his own, said he is impressed with the gastronomic presence that has emerged in Louisville. The night before Fork, Cork & Style, Emeril had a meal at Proof on Main. “I felt like I was in SoHo,” he said of the restaurant.”It’s incredible what’s going on in town. There’s a lot of exciting things happening in Louisville.”

He’s never been to a Kentucky Derby. Emeril hasn’t witnessed the most exciting two minutes in sports because the race takes place during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He’s lived in New Orleans for 28 years, so I understand his allegiance.

Emeril’s favorite Kentucky dishes? Spoonbread and trout. Emeril is also a fan of bourbon, which he said he poured on his French toast that morning (just joking, right?).

Anyone can be a good cook. For chefs-in-the-making, Emeril said it is important to find a mentor, listen to their advice and taste everything you cook. Follow these tips, and “you might be able to whip up a sandwich,” he said.

Between building a cooking empire, Emeril gives back to the community. The Emeril Lagasse Foundation “supports non-profit organizations that provide educational programs, life skills development, culinary training and cultural enrichment, creating opportunities in the communities where Emeril’s restaurants operate,” according to the foundation’s website. Emeril said the foundation is in the process of buying a farm to teach kids about where their food comes from and the importance of local agriculture. “They have to know that orange juice doesn’t come from a carton, it comes from a tree,” he said.

The chef promoted farm-to-fork eating before it was trendy. Emeril said he has always been passionate about using seasonal, local ingredients at his restaurants. “If you have great ingredients, you have great food,” he said. His latest book, Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh, is a testament to his work.

The sweet and the sour: Churchill Downs hosts inaugural Fork, Cork and Style event

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It was hard to predict what would happen at the Fork, Cork & Style festival that descended upon Churchill Downs Sunday. This was the inaugural year for the celebration, which was designed to showcase food and wine from area restaurants and vendors from across the country.

There was a lot to write home to Mom about at Fork, Cork & Style. The food was hot, the wine was flowing and the chefs entertained  crowds of Louisville foodies. There were a few sour grapes, but they didn’t ruin what Churchill Downs had to offer the burgeoning local food community.


The chefs. Yes, superstar chef Emeril Lagasse headlined the event and put on a great show. But so did former Top Chef contestants Brian Malarkey, Betty Fraser and Eli Kirshstein, along with local chef Michael Paley of Proof on Main. It was great to actually smell what these chefs were cooking, a gift modern technology still hasn’t been able to supply (it’s 2010 – where’s Smell-o-Vision?).

The food. Local restaurants set up booths alongside restaurants from across the country to showcase highlights from their menus. The variety was excellent – where else can you get a genuine hot brown from The Brown Hotel and onion rings from The Fishery?

The weather. Churchill Downs didn’t have anything to do with this, but it’s worth noting how gorgeous the day was during the outdoor event. The skies were clear and there was a break from the humidity that has hung in the Ohio Valley air for the past few months.

The Sour

The voucher limit. The basic ticket to the festival cost $25, which allowed access to the cooking demonstrations and one dish from one of the restaurant vendor. But only certain items qualified for the voucher, so you had to pay about $5 to get something else. I heard a few grumbles in the Central BBQ line from a woman who wanted barbecue sliders, but reluctantly chose the barbecue nachos because that’s all her voucher would allow.

The parking. The good news? Free parking was available. The bad news? Lots of people didn’t know about it. When attendees turned into the Churchill Downs parking lot off Central Avenue, the first lot visible cost $5 to park in. Judging by how quickly those lots were filling, most people didn’t know that a free lot was available at Gate 10, farther away from the action, but still free.

The crowd. Yes, tickets were as much as $200. And yes, there were some confused volunteers who didn’t know where to direct attendees trying to find some good wine. But that doesn’t excuse some huffiness that occurred early in the day when some VIP guests were upset that they had to wait in line to get their vouchers. Hold your horses, folks. This is Churchill Downs, after all.