Did you know that Secrets of Louisville Chefs on WAVE 3 has been on for 12 years? That’s 12 years of learning the inside scoop on local chefs and restaurants. Did you also know that you can go to tapings of these shows and get treated to an entire culinary experience behind the scenes?
Recently, I was invited to attend the taping of this show at Bourbon Barrel Food’s Kitchen Studio. The chefs for the day were Dustin Staggers from The Monkey Wrench and Dallas McGarity of Marketplace at Theater Square.
The Kitchen Studio is transformed into a television studio, complete with big lights and cameras and additional screens for watching. These tapings have limited seatings with tickets sold in advance by Mint Julep Tours. As part of this experience, guests arrive by 9:30 a.m. and are treated to champagne and a tour of Bourbon Barrel Foods before the taping begins. The taping I attended was sold out, as most of them are.
The hosts of the show are Kevin Harned, Chief Meterologist at WAVE 3 News, and Tim Laird, Chief Entertainment Officer at Brown-Forman. These two have been hosting the show together for eight years. They both share a love of food and local restaurants. Before the show, they tell the audience about the chefs profiled that day and give a little backstory on their show.
Before sitting down for the taping, the guests are treated to Bourbon Barrel Smoked Paprika popcorn along with Quills coffee. This will tide you over from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The hardest part of this experience is watching the chefs make all the food and not being able to eat it right away.
The audience is pumped up and ready to start the taping.
SHOW ONE: Dustin Staggers from The Monkey Wrench and his future restaurant, Roux
Chefs bring all their own ingredients and cooking tools to the studio. Dustin’s setup was meticulous and here he is (below) finishing his coffee and reviewing his materials before the show begins taping. A native of Tampa, Florida, he is a self-taught cook who moved here for another business and loved it so much he stayed. He cooks at The Monkey Wrench, where he has transformed their menu from bar food to destination food. He loves Cajun cooking, as you will see in his recipes. Soon, he is opening up a Cajun & Creole restaurant in the Highlands called Roux.
Each chef prepares two dishes before the live audience. Tim talks to the chefs before they cook to describe their dishes. Dustin describes the frog legs he is about to cook, which have been brined in pickle juice. He serves them with a creole aioli.
Dustin sets to work on the BBQ Shrimp, a dish so messy (and divine) that it is recommended that you eat it with a bib. As Dustin says, “If you don’t like butter, you shouldn’t make this dish.” They are served head on and tail on. Naturally, one is expected to suck the heads, as any good Cajun would.
This is the accompanying cocktail created by Tim Laird called The Big Easy. It involves Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, lime and bitters.
SHOW TWO: Dallas McGarity from Marketplace Theater Square
There is a brief break between tapings, at which time, one chef cleans up and the second chef starts unpacking. Chef Dallas McGarity of Marketplace at Theater Square brought several containers, one of which was a cooler of all his ingredients, carefully measured and labeled. Dallas was the chef at Volare and Equus before opening Marketplace. The personal tidbits picked up are fun: Dallas revealed he’d slept less than four hours after closing the restaurant late and then waking up with his young children at 6:00 a.m. to make them pancakes.
Tim and Dallas talk about his menu items. The first is “toast.” Here he takes a French batard (similar to a baguette but airier), slices it, drizzles it with olive oil and toasts it lightly. He then tops it with ricotta spread, fennel, artichoke hearts, cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes and drizzles with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
And for the main dish, Dallas takes out a pork belly slab (basically bacon) as big as a legal pad. He browns it in a cast iron skillet and the entire studio smells like bacon–it was heavenly. After browning it, it cooks for two hours. (Obviously, he had done this before the show). This was served atop a curried carrot puree with a bourbon/sorghum/hoisin sauce.
When the taping is over, a buffet of everything the chefs made is then served to all the guests. I should have walked a little faster to get in the buffet line, as the food goes fast.
Secrets of Louisville Chefs airs on WAVE 3 at 11:30 a.m. You can also watch past episodes here: www.newlocaltv.com
If you are interested in attending a taping, or a “culinary experience,” check out Mint Julep Tours website here: mintjuleptours.com.
The next taping is scheduled for September 27 and will feature Allen Hubbard from Martini Italian Restaurant and Cindy Rubino from The Cafe. The champagne greeting starts at 9:30 a.m. with the taping running from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets for the show are $50 and are exclusively sold through Mint Julep Tours online: mintjuleptours.com. Tickets are $50 each and include a champagne meet and greet with the hosts and producers of the show, a tour, reserved seats to watch two tapings of the show and a lunch buffet afterward.