The 2012 Idea Festival's Taste of Innovation event left the taste of Braised Beef Cheeks on the palate and left the air buzzing with new and inventive food combinations at Churchill Downs last night. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer even took home the newly christened Orange Fork Award as the person who has done the most to lead food sustainability efforts in the city.
Levy's Restaurant Churchill Downs stole the show with Executive Sous Chef David Danielson's dish mentioned above, served on a bed of wiesenberger mill grits, charred corn, cracked pepper and tomato relish. But that didn't mean that there weren't close seconds including Proof On Main's Chef Levon Wallace's Mulefoot Hog Terrine, a spicy, tasty treat. Or Feast BBQ's Pork Sliders with Apple Slaw courtesy of Chef Ryan Rogers.
Not to be outdone, the desserts offered something different for the taste buds like Comfy Cow's Grits And Sorghum ice cream or Kern's Kitchen's perennial favorite Derby Pie. Drink ran the gamut, too, like the Louisville Water Company's Pure Tap water, Vint's Vint Julep (an espresso drink) and all sorts of spirits from beer to wine. Kentucky's signature bourbons were represented by Evan Williams, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses and a host of others.
One of the most innovative parts of the evening was the fact that chefs were available to talk to the attendees rather than being locked in a back room doing their Gordon Ramsey impressions. Nearly to a person, every one of them put the dishes together in front of you and happily answered questions and offered opinons on the dishes you were trying. With so much imagination going into the food put in front of you, it was helpful to understand the thought process behind something like the Ricota Gnocchi in Truffle Cream served by Marketplace Restaurant's Executive Chef Dallas McGarity.
With all the restaurants and chefs doing their best to innovate and capture imaginations with their creativity, there were really no losers among the exhibitors. Every chef captured the spirit of the event and the live demonstrations got participants thinking about the artistry that goes into the food being prepared.
Now if we could just get a little more of that light and airy Bourbon-Vanilla Cheesecake from Harvest's Chef Coby Ming, we could have the happiest of taste buds.
Photos: Louisville.com/Tim Girton