Kentucky’s Exploding Culinary Scene

Kentucky’s Exploding Culinary Scene

For years, Kentucky’s best known restaurant was a charming little place called The Beaumont Inn. Located in historic Harrodsburg, The Beaumont lays claim to being the state’s oldest family-operated bed & breakfast. The quaint main dining room has been serving timeless Bluegrass classics liked fried chicken and country ham since 1845. But just as the number of bourbon distilleries has boomed in recent years, so has the number of innovative, ground breaking Kentucky restaurants. Today, new highly touted dining spots are drawing crowds to Louisville, Midway, Lexington and beyond. Each one fronted by ambitious, young executive chefs who are redefining both the culinary landscape and the menu. And the accolades from national publications are starting to pile up. Travel + Leisure magazine recently added Louisville to their list of “America’s Best Cities for foodies”, while Thrillist named Derby City their “Best Up-and-Coming Food City.” Simply put: Kentucky is becoming a destination for foodies. But to find the very best that the state has to offer, visitors often need a sense of adventure. And a pretty good sense of direction.

2.18 Blog Post 1“You sure this is right?” The guide let out a light laugh as he pulled the bus around another corner in Old Louisville. He had heard similar expressions of concern from guests on this drive many times before. “Yeah, I’m sure.” On a block filled with Victorian homes, one neighbor gave the bus what could only be described as the stink eye. The guide stopped right in front of a non-descript square building: Chef Edward Lee’s 610 Magnolia Restaurant, what very well may be the most unassuming fine-dining location on earth. Critically acclaimed 610 Magnolia is well known for their six-course pre-fixe meal served Wednesday through Saturday evenings. With intimate seating for only 50, the food served in this smart casual hideaway may be best described as Southern by way of Brooklyn by way of Korea. In fact, you could describe Chef Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia’s proprietor and Louisville’s own Food Network Iron Chef, in a very similar way. Lee has joked that he came to Kentucky to attend the Derby and then stayed to open a restaurant. These days, Lee has two dining spots. Milkwood, directly underneath Actor’s Theater on Main Street in Louisville, offers a more casual environment and the perfect subterranean escape from the bustle of downtown.

 

2.18 Blog Post 2If you want to eschew dinner for a hearty breakfast, then your itinerary should call for a pilgrimage to Wagner’s. The location, known as Wagner’s Pharmacy until they stopped issuing prescriptions in 2014, sits in the shadow of Churchill Downs and the building is every bit as modest as 610 Magnolia. While dining, you’ll share tables with thoroughbred jockeys, spot locals seeking out daily racing forms, and chat with horse trainers dropping in to pick up a mane comb or ointment. But don’t let all the activity distract you from the food. Esquire magazine honored Wagner’s in 2009 as “One Of The Best Places to Eat Breakfast in America.” Wagner’s, which opened way back in 1922, gained a bit of national attention when Chef Bobby Flay famously threw down (and lost) in a televised competition centered around omelets. Most of the staff just shrugs off the adulation, but Flay quickly learned what locals had known for decades – no one in the country makes better omelets than Wagner’s.

2.18 Blog Post 3With a growing number of amazing restaurants, it’s unlikely that you’ll go hungry in Louisville. Food options at bourbon distilleries throughout Kentucky, however, have always been a bit more limited. In fact, among the state’s major distilleries, less than half of them have lunch spots that allow guests to dine on premise. And, of those, only Woodford Reserve can boast a “Chef-In-Residence.” Glenn’s Creek Café, located inside the distillery’s visitors center, is the brain child of a chef who is leaving her mark all over the state: Ouita Michel.

 
2.18 Blog Post 4Chef Michel started turning heads when she opened the Holly Hill Inn in tiny Midway over 15 years ago. Today, she currently operates five restaurants and a bakery in locations that span three Kentucky counties. Each restaurant is tucked away behind a horse farm or down a narrow country road. Visitors at Wallace Station often enjoy lunch outside over a game of horseshoes usually unaware they are dining less than half a mile from the 1825 birthplace of Zerelda James, notorious matriarch to the James Gang. Windy Corner Market literally sits at a cross roads wedged on a small piece of land between large horse farms. In the spring, you’re likely to see young foals lounging beside the fence between bites of your Shady Lane Chicken Salad. All of Chef Michel’s restaurants are distinctly different from one another. And each one comes complete with a staff that could not be more warm and welcoming. And if that wasn’t enough, Ouita Michel was just named a 2016 James Beard Award Semi-finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year!

Sometimes the best meals in Kentucky are waiting for you just down a road that you might otherwise look past. To sample the very best dishes, visitors must to explore beyond the ubiquitous Hot Brown, the somewhat mysterious Burgoo, and Derby Pie. Plan a visit to see Kentucky’s legendary distilleries, horse farms and more. But make sure you schedule some time to slow down and eat. You’ll quickly discover for yourself why Zagat named Louisville one of America’s Next Hot Food Cities. And it has absolutely nothing to do with a certain famous Colonel.

Mint Julep Tours regularly visits a number of local, independently owned restaurants throughout the state as part of several of our tours. Mint Julep Tours can also create a custom itinerary for a Private Custom tour that includes a stop for lunch or dinner at nearly any Kentucky restaurant of your choosing. Hours and availability may vary depending on day or time of year. Call 502-583-1433 or visit us online for more information and to book a tour today!

Secrets of Louisville Chefs, Mint Julep Tours & Bourbon Barrel Foods Announce 2015 Dates

First taping Saturday, February 7, 2015

Louisville, KY, January 15, 2014The Secrets of Louisville Chef’s team is excited to announce the latest chef’s set to grace the stage. The upcoming shows are set to feature the top local chefs from your favorite eateries.

 

The first taping of 2015 is Saturday, February 7 and will feature Chef Raymond Ramirez from Makers Mark Bourbon House and Chef Alex Dulaney of Bistro Le Relais.

 

Mark your calendar for additional dates, and check out the Mint Julep Tours website for the announcements of upcoming featured chefs:

March 7, 2015

April 11, 2015

May 30, 2015

June 20, 2015

July –December Dates TBA

 

2014 was a huge success selling out and setting the tone for another fantastic season. There are only a few seats left for the February taping and they can be purchased exclusively through Mint Julep Tours.

 

“We are thrilled to partner with the Secrets of Louisville Chefs team and Bourbon Barrel Foods for another great year of offering unique and exclusive culinary experiences.”  said Sean Higgins, Chief Fun Officer at Mint Julep Tours. “Louisville is lucky to have some of the top chef’s in the nation and this allows our guests experience the best and finest up close and personal.”

 

The show has moved its production to the new Kitchen Studio at Bourbon Barrel Foods in front of a live audience. The show will be taped in a bistro-like setting which is limited to 24 guests.  Each taping includes two episodes with two different top local chefs.  Guests will get an up-close and personal view of the cooking action, and they will get to sample the creations of the chefs immediately following the show. Tickets for the show are $50 and will be exclusively sold through Mint Julep Tours online: http://mintjuleptours.com.

 

In addition, Mint Julep tours hopes to extend the experience for viewers who purchase tickets to the show by offering tours of distilleries, a mixology course and tours of local farms where featured chefs grow fresh foods.  Other packages and touring options will be available soon.

 

Tim Laird and Kevin Harned are the hosts of Secrets of Louisville Chefs.  The popular TV series airs on WAVE-3 at 11am on Sundays and on WBNA-21 at 6pm weeknights.  Episodes are also available for viewing on line 24/7 at NewLocalTV.com.

 

Bourbon Barrel Foods and Kitchen Studio are located in the historic Butchertown Market (1201 Story Avenue Suite 175), a Louisville landmark.

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ABOUT MINT JULEP TOURS – Mint Julep Tours is the only dedicated tour company focused on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky they offer Custom and Public Bourbon Distillery Tours as well as unique Exclusive Experiences, Horse Farm Tours, Culinary Tours, and Louisville City Tours. As a truly one-of-a-kind tour company, Mint Julep Tours also offers transportation and event planning services with a focus on Special Events, Corporate Outings and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties.  Specialty horse and bourbon-related gifts are available at the Mint Julep Tours retail store inside the Galt House on the third floor of the Rivue Tower at 140 N. 4th Street Suite 326, Louisville, KY 40202. For more information, visit: www.mintjuleptours.com, call 502-583-1433 or email info@mintjuleptours.com.

 

Secrets of Louisville Chefs team partners with Mint Julep Tours & Bourbon Barrel Foods

Partnership to bring new experience for viewers this Spring

Now in its 11th year, Secrets of Louisville Chefs is partnering with Bourbon Barrel Foods and Mint Julep Tours to give the show a new look and feel; and to give viewers a brand new foodie experience.

The show has moved its production to the new Kitchen Studio at Bourbon Barrel Foods in front of a live audience.    The show will be taped in a bistro-like setting which is limited to 24 guests.  Each taping includes two episodes with two different top local chefs.  Guests will get an up-close and personal view of the cooking action, and they will get to sample the creations of the chefs immediately following the show. Tickets for the show are $50 and will be exclusively sold through Mint Julep Tours online: http://mintjuleptours.com beginning today.

In addition, Mint Julep tours hopes to extend the experience for viewers who purchase tickets to the show by offering tours of distilleries, a mixology course, and tours of local farms where featured chefs grow fresh foods.  Other packages and touring options will be available this summer.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Secrets of Louisville Chef’s team and Bourbon Barrel Foods to bring local foods into a new culinary experience,” said Sean Higgins, Chief Fun Officer at Mint Julep Tours, “we are also excited about the opportunity this brings to offer culinary tourism to the Louisville community and we will be expanding on this focus in the coming months.”

Tim Laird and Kevin Harned are the hosts of Secrets of Louisville Chefs.  The popular TV series airs on WAVE-3 at 11am on Sundays and on WBNA-21 at 6pm weeknights.  Episodes are also available for viewing on line 24/7 at NewLocalTV.com.

“The gorgeous new state-of-the-art Kitchen Studio at Bourbon Barrel Foods will allow us to upgrade the Secrets of Louisville Chefs on-air product, as well as the studio audience experience,” said Dan Davidsaver, Associate Producer. “We can’t wait to turn on the burners and get cooking!” 

Upcoming tapings are scheduled for May 10: featuring Gary’s on Spring chef, Harold Baker, and Jeff Bridges from Bourbons Bistro; and June 7: featuring the chef from Brasserie Provence and another amazing local chef to be announced at a later date.

Bourbon Barrel Foods and Kitchen Studio are located in the historic Butchertown Market (1201 Story Avenue Suite 175), a Louisville landmark.

  ABOUT MINT JULEP TOURS – Mint Julep Tours is a Louisville-based tour, transportation and event planning company with a mission statement that represents the primary purpose of the company: “The purpose of fun is to have some”. Tours include: The City of Louisville, private horse farms, bourbon distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and special customized corporate outings and events. Specialty horse and bourbon related gifts are available at the Mint Julep Tours retail store inside the Galt House, Rivue Tower at 140 North 4th Street Suite 326, Louisville, KY 40202. For more information, visit: www.mintjuleptours.com, call 502-583-1433 or email info@mintjuleptours.com.  Follow Mint Julep on Twitter: @MintJulepTours, Facebook or YouTube