Taste of Kentucky: regional horseracing fare

Before the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, US, got underway, racegoers flocked to food festival ‘Taste of Derby’ to sample cuisines local to popular horseracing destinations

Nineteen chefs from around the world gathered at the annual ‘Taste of Derby’ event on Thursday 3rd May to serve up tempting dishes local to their horseracing region.

This celebration of cuisine is designed as a precursor to two days of competitive horseracing featuring the Kentucky Derby, which takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, United States. Some 1,250 guests were treated to world-class cooking as chefs representing racing destinations from across the country – and further afield – served samples of their regional specialties.

Staying true to his roots, New Orleans' representative Tory McPhail aimed to ignite in his guests a shared passion for classic Creole food. McPhail’s dish of Tabasco Cured Royal Red Shrimp with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes reflected his role as a spokesperson for sustainable, regional food from Louisiana.

Taste of Derby’s international offering came from Dubai which sent Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel's chef Musabbeh Al Kaabi. Renowned for his modern Emirati cuisine, Al Kaabi’s menu of Spicy Chicken Leg with Feta Cheese and a savory, tangy Arabic Sumac Cookie added a touch of traditional Middle Eastern elements to the culinary occasion. Now a top chef with numerous awards to his name, the Emirati chef describes how his family helped him hone his skills from a young age: "I used to watch my family when they cooked and I learned from my step-mum and sisters how to make every kind of dish."

Chef John Villa, the mastermind behind one of the largest Pan-Asian kitchens in the world, also sought inspiration from global cuisine. Representing Belmont Park / New York, NYC’s cosmopolitan region, Villa served a menu of Grilled Red Snapper with Shanghai Bok Choy and Kaffir Lime vinaigrette.

To date, Taste of Derby has raised US$121,000 to benefit hunger relief organisations around the United States and in regions where participating chefs are located.