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Kentucky Life

The Year of Kentucky Food

2018 is the Year of Kentucky Food, and Kentucky Life host Doug Flynn visited Honeywood, one of the new restaurants in Lexington’s The Summit at Fritz Farm, to find out more about it.

Honeywood is one of several Central Kentucky restaurants run by Kentucky chef Ouita Michel. The location and the food bring traditional southern hospitality to a new type of customer.

“We call Honeywood the young, hip sister of Holly Hill in Midway,” Michel says, referring to her acclaimed Holly Hill Inn restaurant. “We are really focused on local agriculture in this restaurant. It’s about showcasing it to a new audience, a younger audience, and really being focused on Kentucky traditional recipes but bringing them forward for another generation.”

With The Year of Kentucky Food, the state is showcasing local culture through dining experiences.

“From a tourism perspective I think you can really get a sense of place and get to know the people and what’s exciting about a destination through what you eat,” says Kristen Branscum, Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism. “We have some wonderful chefs, great producers, and we know that the agriculture in Kentucky is phenomenal. What we have in Kentucky is truly awesome, and so that’s the hook. That’s our invitation to the world is to come take a little stop at our table. Have a meal with us and get to experience Kentucky through our culinary offerings and all that we have on our tables.”

Kentucky has nine different regions designated by distinct features and cultures. This year, there’s an official meal for each of the regions, created to showcase what makes each place special. And it’s not just high-end restaurants in the larger cities that have something to offer.

“Everybody wants that local flair and it doesn’t have to be white tablecloth, it doesn’t have to be Michelin star rated,” says Branscum. “It can be mom and pop and it could be your aunt’s restaurant around the corner. That’s what visitors want; they want a true taste of Kentucky.”

As a tourism initiative, Kentucky’s state parks will also be participating in this yearlong celebration of Kentucky cuisine. Nine state parks will be serving the nine regional meals and offer visitors the chance to use food as a launching point for further exploration of the commonwealth.

“So if you want to go and see where that apple in the fried apple pie came from, here’s a farm down the road that you can go and pick your own apples,” Branscum explains. “We’re trying to do that extension. You have a great meal, you’re at the park, you do the things there, but you’re extending your trip. Here’ s an extra day you can go and get out on the farm or get out to a restaurant that is also serving great food.”

“Our horse industry and our bourbon industry are bringing so many people to our state,” adds Michel. “What we want to say is that’s not only who we are. You can have a great meal while you’re here, too. You can travel the highways and byways of Kentucky and see so much.”

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2313 which originally aired on May 19, 2018. Watch the full episode.