For my eighth birthday I wanted only three things: a golden retriever, a Bunsen burner and a chef coat—each to go with the three careers between which I was torn at the time, a veterinarian, a scientist, and, obviously, a chef.
While I received neither a dog nor flaming lab equipment, I was gifted a small, white coat with Emeril Lagasse’s embroidered signature running across the left chest pocket, and a matching miniature chef’s hat. I was going through a major Food Network phase at the time, one that I still haven’t managed to grow out of.
So fast-forward a little over a decade, and imagine my utter glee as Louisville seems increasingly ubiquitous on the channel. Damaris Phillips, Iron Chef and Restaurant Impossible. And why shouldn’t we be? Our food scene is a budding center of inspired-Southern fare, with some delicious ethnic twists. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments of Louisville featured on the tube for food:
Throwdown with Bobby Flay—The Brown Hotel
I’ll admit, the premise of this show always perplexed me a bit: “Hey, I’m a world-class chef. I’m going to surprise you by just showing up at the place where you create what you consider to be your greatest culinary achievement— which is often celebrated by the surrounding community—and challenge you to a cook-off of said culinary achievement.”
However, in the Hot Brown challenge, chefs Joe and John Castro of The Brown Hotel beat Bobby Flay.
Flay has since incorporated the “Kentucky Hot Brown” into the menu of his New York brasserie, Bar Americain.
Best Thing I Ever Ate—Cake Flour
Chef Aaron Sanchez is tempted by the Flourless Chocolate Cake, a dark, rich cake made with 55 percent cocoa and a chocolate ganache, from Cake Flour on East Market.
Best Thing I Ever Ate, Man Vs. Food Nation, Throwdown With Bobby Flay: Lynn’s Paradise Cafe
Alton Brown featured the quirky Lynn’s Paradise Cafe’s Hot Brown as his favorite “All American” dish on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Adam Richman, host of Man Vs. Food Nation, indulged in a Lynn’s breakfast of Triple B French Toast: a homemade buttermilk, black walnut bread with a homemade blackberry sauce and bourbon meringue.
Finally, Bobby Flay challenged owner Lynn Winter to a breakfast cook off, and was again defeated by a Louisville chef.
Man Vs. Food Nation—The Comfy Cow
Man Versus Food Nation member Joe Nikolai takes on the Comfy Cow Challenge: 15 scoops of ice cream plus four different toppings slathered with whipped cream.
Next Food Network Star and Southern at Heart—Damaris Phillips
Damaris Phillips is a born-and-raised Southern spitfire who graduated from JCTC with a degree in culinary arts. After spending several years teaching and working both front of house and back of house positions in local restaurants, she fulfilled her dream of appearing on Food Network’s Next Food Network Star.
She charmed the judges with her wit (and her awesome Southern cuisine) and became the Season 9 winner.
Damaris’ own Food Network show, Southern At Heart, debuted on October 27. In the show, Damaris plays both matchmaker and chef, teaching the kitchen clueless how to impress their dinner dates with her fresh take on Southern cuisine.
Beat Bobby Flay—Anthony Lamas
Chef Anthony Lamas of Seviche battled head-to-head with a protégée of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in order to move on the battle Chef Bobby Flay. He created a unique rendition of shrimp and grits, which included nanchego and Monteray Jack cheeses, an adobo puree, and Bourbon Redeye gravy.
Restaurant Impossible— Coach Lamp Restaurant and Pub (and The Cafe)
Food Network Chef Robert Irvine came to Coach Lamp this past summer with his show Restaurant: Impossible. The Coach Lamp Restaurant and Pub was perhaps one of the “most desperate restaurants,” on the cusp of failure.
Irvine rounded up a team of volunteers, mustered a $10,000 budget and got busy trying to turn the business around. It involved a lot of clean-up work and rebranding the location with a new back-porch bar area.
However, this was a two-for one exposure for Louisville restaurants as The Cafe was lauded as an example of what a successful restaurant should be like.
Top Chef and Iron Chef—Edward Lee
The 610 Magnolia chef was a favorite on Top Chef Texas as well as the victor against Chef Jose Garces in Iron Chef Battle Tongue and Cheek.