Sip & Savor With Kentucky’s Best
Come for the music, stay for the food with Railbird’s Sip & Savor, located in the air-conditioned Keene Barn. During Sip & Savor demonstrations, patrons will enjoy intimate, up-close-and-personal culinary experiences with world-renowned chefs in a studio kitchen setting. Samples of the chefs’ creations will be passed around to taste.
In addition to world-class dining, Sip & Savor will feature a specialty Gin and Tonic area with craft cocktails and mixology demonstrations presented by Castle and Key Distillery and Jack Rudy Cocktail Company. (Must be 21+ to consume alcohol)
Culinary demonstrations are free and open to all ticket types.
SIP & SAVOR DEMONSTRATIONS SCHEDULE COMING SOON
“For me, while studying French and Italian cuisine, I realized they use local agricultural artisan products in their food. And that’s why it’s so good. That’s why from the beginning of wanting to be a chef, I’ve committed to supporting local agriculture. Buying local is a tradition that our culture seemed to abandon for a few decades. I love cooking straight from the garden.”
She and her husband, Chris, bought the Holly Hill Inn in 2000 and opened the fine dining restaurant in May 2001. Michel’s use of locally sourced foods both helps sustain Bluegrass family farms and provides her customers only the freshest, best-tasting fine cuisine. The devotion to local foods is evident also at her other restaurants: Wallace Station Deli just outside Midway; Windy Corner Market, Smithtown Seafood (two locations), and Honeywood in Lexington; The Midway Bakery, Midway; and Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Versailles, Ky., where Michel is chef-in-residence. Michel’s catering division, Holly Hill Events, shares Kentucky-sourced cuisine and hospitality with groups of all sizes. Her eighth restaurant, Zim’s Cafe and accompanying bar, The Thirsty Fox, opened in 2018 at the newly renovated historic courthouse in downtown Lexington.
Her restaurants have purchased $3 million of Kentucky-grown meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables over the last 19 years. Her reputation and commitment to sustainability have earned speaking invitations and awards from local, regional and national organizations.
Michel’s work earns accolades from local and national fans of her cuisine. She has been a James Beard Foundation Award nominee as Outstanding Restaurateur and as Best Chef Southeast numerous times, competing against chefs in major metropolitan areas. Michel is an alumna of the James Beard Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, a collaborative for chefs who work to improve the world’s food systems. Michel and her restaurants are regularly featured in local and national media, such as The New York Times, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Food Network and Cooking Channel. She was a guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Kentucky series this past season.
Active in her community, Ouita Michel is a member of Southern Foodways Alliance; James Beard Foundation; Les Dames d’Escoffier; free community supper programs coordinator for Midway Christian Church; board member of FoodChain, a non-profit food incubator in Lexington, Ky., and founder of FEAST, a fund raiser for FoodChain that celebrates women chefs; Hindman Settlement School, which is dedicated to enriching Central Appalachian culture; and is a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a statewide citizens group working to improve education for Kentuckians. Recent honors include induction into the Junior Achievement Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame; the Fayette Alliance Agricultural Excellence Award, Midway University Spotlight Award and the Bluegrass Tomorrow Josephine Abercrombie Award, the group’s most prestigious honor, given to a person who contributes tirelessly to improve quality of life in the Bluegrass. She, Chris and their daughter, Willa, live in a 200-year-old cabin adjacent to the Holly Hill Inn.
As a Lexington native with family ties to the culinary industry, Executive Chef Cole Arimes combines a flair for creativity with a dedication to the ingredients, people, and culture of his local community.
After years of experience as a chef in some of Cincinnati’s finest restaurants, Cole returned home to Lexington to open his namesake restaurant – Coles 735 Main – in 2012. Today, he is an award-winning executive chef, restaurant owner and visionary that builds connections in the community and brings inspired dining experiences to downtown Lexington through his three restaurants: Coles 735 Main, Epping’s on Eastside and Poppy & Olive.
Cole is known for his passion for providing guests with culinary innovation and exceptional customer service on every visit. He is also dedicated to supporting the Lexington community through hosting regular charity events and by sourcing many of his three restaurants’ ingredients locally.
His work continues to generate positive publicity both locally and nationally, and his restaurants consistently rank as some of the best-reviewed dining experiences in Lexington and the country.
Cole lives with his wife Susan and two young children Hurst and Park in Lexington, applying those chaos management skills from the kitchen to daily life as a father, chef, and business owner.
Hailing from rural Southwestern Virginia, Travis Milton spent his childhood in a true Appalachian kitchen, learning the proper method for shucking beans, preserving produce through canning, and planting gardens—all under the tutelage of his great (and great-great) grandparents. A reverence for the traditions and heritage of Southern cooking was instilled in Milton from his earliest days spent behind the counter of the Village, a restaurant in Castlewood, Virginia, owned by his great grandparents.
Milton moved to Richmond to attend school and started cooking on his own in his early teens, initially just as a way to make money doing something familiar. Soon, jobs in the kitchen became more than just income, and before long Milton was staging in kitchens across the country, like Todd Gray’s Equinox in D.C. and Chris Cosentino’s Incanto in San Francisco. When Milton joined his friend and fellow Virginian Jason Alley to work as chef de cuisine at Comfort in Richmond, he realized his ability to combine the memories of his family’s kitchen with the techniques of his mentors, creating composed and modern Appalachian dishes.
It was with these two culinary traditions in mind that Milton left Comfort and embarked on his dream of a genuine Appalachian restaurant. His first Appalachian-centric restaurant, Milton’s at the Western Front, opened in February 2018 as a meat-and-three. The menu includes not only staunchly Appalachian items such as Chili Buns and Pepperoni Rolls, but will also feature dishes like Hungarian Goulash, reflecting the rich food culture of the Eastern European immigrants who settled in Southwestern Virginia.
Hickory at Nicewander Farm, opening in late 2018 and early 2019 respectively, will represent both aspects of Milton’s background (“both sides of my brain,” as he puts it) by showcasing a modern take on the comforting foods of his youth, while also serving a more rustic take on those traditions as well. Rare Heirloom fruits and vegetables will be at the forefront of all the menus, from more 65 different varieties of indigenous beans (his favorite being greasy beans) to rare varieties of squash, originally cultivated by Native Americans will be grown, served and preserved on site.
Outside his restaurants, Milton is at the forefront of the grassroots effort working to preserve the heritage of the Appalachia kitchen. A conversation among fellow Appalachian chefs on a Facebook thread turned into the creation of the Appalachian Food Summit, for which Milton serves on the board of directors. He also works to highlight the rich history of the area in conjunction with the Central Appalachian Food Heritage Project, the Clinch River Valley Initiative, and the Virginia Food Heritage Project.
Milton spends much of his free time traveling to Virginia farms and fostering relationships with purveyors across the state. When not in the kitchen, his favorite place to be is sitting on his front porch, enjoying his whiskey collection and listening to 90’s R&B records.
Kentucky born and raised, Chef Jeremy Ashby has emerged as a prize winning chef in an era when tradition and the local food movement have united and Kentucky is the “in” place to live and work and experience culinary delights. A co-owner and a part of the Azur Food Group, he joins Chef Miguel Rivas, Bernie Lovely and Rob Mudd in bringing the finest of cuisine to Lexington in the form of Azur Restaurant and Patio, Azur Catering, Dupree Catering and the newest member of the family — Lexington Diner.
Chef Jeremy’s pedigree springing from Kentucky tradition began as so many culinary stories do with his first apprenticeship — by the side of his grandmother. He speaks of her southern agricultural roots in Richmond, KY and of scouring the garden for the season’s latest bounty. Educated in the “hands on” Montessori tradition, Jeremy didn’t stop there. He carried on his grandmother’s traditions in growing and preparing food from an early age. Today, he prepares exquisite dishes with all manner of meats, vegetables, fruits and sauces — infusing them with layered flavors and seasonings.
Chef Jeremy’s more formal culinary education began with a degree from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina in 2000. And, after pursuing additional training and experience with renowned chefs Donald Barickman and Norman Van Aken in Charleston and Miami (where he was influenced with Latin flavors), he brought those traditions home to Kentucky. Curious about all aspects of the culinary trade, he earned a degree from the University of Kentucky in business and hospitality. He has been an owner of Azur and a member of the Azur Food Group since 2007.
To list Chef Jeremy’s awards, media profiles and accolades is to quickly run out of space. To name just a few of his honors, he has been a participating chef in numerous James Beard dinner tours including an appearance at the original James Beard House in New York City, a winner of the inaugural Lyons Farm International Chef Showdown in 2012, and first place winner of the Kentucky Great American Seafood Cook-Off, 2011. Jeremy has been on the contributing board for Atlanta and Charleston Food and Wine Festival and loved helping facilitate food related events. In addition to his work as executive chef, he co-hosts Food News and Chews Radio on 590 WLAP. Suffice it to say that Chef Jeremy is an established and still rising star in a crowded culinary universe. He is a promoter of the Kentucky brand whether it be farms in eastern Kentucky or farms across the world.
Samantha Fore is a first generation Sri Lankan-American from Lexington, Kentucky and the owner of Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites. She started Tuk Tuk in 2016, after traditional Sri Lankan brunches outgrew her home. Tuk Tuk menus represent Fore’s Sri Lankan heritage as well as her upbringing in the American South. Her work has been featured in Food & Wine magazine and on Bon Appetit online. She is a 2019 Smith Fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and was selected as one of Plate Magazine’s 2018 Chefs to Watch.
Kristin Smith is the sixth-generation farmer of Faulkner Bent Farm and Co-Owner/Executive Chef of The Wrigley Taproom & Eatery, a farm-to-fork Appalachian restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. After bouncing from adventure to adventure after college, she received a call from her aging grandfather that changed her life: it was time to move home and help run the cattle farm that had been in their family since the 1860s or he would be forced to sell it. She immediately returned home to farm alongside her grandfather, absorbing his old traditions and creating new ones. Smith quickly learned that her true passion lies in cooking the pastured pork, dry-aged steaks, and heirloom tomatoes she works so hard to cultivate. After several years as a burger and taco tent at the local farmers’ market, Kristin transitioned to an owner and the executive chef at the Wrigley Taproom, which just celebrated its 5th anniversary and purchased over $103,000 in local foods in 2019.
Smith believes in sourcing and creating high quality dishes featuring local, fresh ingredients. She honors Southeastern Kentucky and the Appalachian Mountain region through cooking honest, creative, and engaging food for locals and visitors alike. Smith serves on the Appalachian Food Summit and Community Farm Alliance boards, was a featured chef with the James Beard Foundation Taste America 2019, highlighted in Time Magazine by acclaimed Kentucky author Silas House, and presented a Ted Talk on her experiences in the food industry. When Kristin isn’t chasing cattle or sharing a pumpkin pie with her prize sow Hammy Wynette, you can find her creating a joy-filled, hospitable atmosphere at the Wrigley or traveling through Appalachia from diner to diner, looking for her next favorite food adventure.