What does it take to serve 22,000 dining guests at the Kentucky Derby, held this weekend at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville? Besides a whole lot of planning, how about this for some numbers: 1,592 pounds of baby carrots, 1,950 pounds of beef tenderloin, 11,100 dinner rolls, and 2,800 pounds of butter.
David Danielson, who has been the Churchill Downs executive chef since 2013, looked to local Kentucky purveyors as he put together the Southern menu for the 143rd Run for the Roses. This year’s menu makes use of ingredients such as cured country ham, from free-range hogs that feast on chestnuts and papaw fruit in the Appalachian Mountains, and strawberries grown on a local aquaponics farm.
Highlights of the menu include roasted and pickled asparagus salad; strawberry caprese salad with sweet basil dressing; poached shrimp tomato aspic with basil syrup; chilled beef tenderloin with Kenny’s Farmhouse blue cheese and arugula; Woodland Country ham with melon, burrata, and pear-thyme vinaigrette; and Bourbon Sea Salt and Chocolate Caramel Tart.
To bring a taste of the Kentucky Derby to your home, chef Virginia Willis, who will be cooking as the celebrity chef at the exclusive Churchill Downs venue The Mansion, offers this recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick—a healthy take on fried chicken.