It’s not every day that I go out to lunch. It’s especially not every day that I go out for lunch and end up having an 11-course meal at a fine restaurant.
Recently, a group of food-inspired media folk were invited to try the new or revamped menu items at Winston’s Restaurant with Executive Chef John Castro. We enjoyed a leisurely 11-course meal, and between every course, he came out to introduce the plate and tell us the background behind it. This man is truly a teacher, and his descriptions made all of us taste and experience every aspect of each dish.
Winston’s Restaurant is directly associated with Sullivan University and its National Center for Hospitality Studies program. Sullivan is the breeding ground for aspiring chefs, and Winston’s is the final stop before these chefs graduate and get jobs in the industry. Consider it comparable to a senior thesis. Chef Castro has been at the helm as the “professor” since Winston’s opened 20 years ago.
Did you know that half of the restaurants in town are staffed by Sullivan alumni, many of whom were taught by John Castro? Oakroom at the Seelbach, Corbett’s and Proof on Main are just a few examples of restaurants where Sullivan alumni have landed. There are 11 to 15 students per semester who learn the ropes of the industry. As the chef says, “It’s the hardest restaurant I’ve ever run,” because just as students finish their final classes at Winston’s, they graduate and a new crew comes in.
Castro and the students had a hand in the menu that we sampled. Many dishes are entrees that have been brought back from previous menu iterations. Some were specials brought to the menu permanently. Others were completely new. After sampling the dishes, I would give all the students an “A.” And if you’re curious what an 11-course meal looks like, take a seat and get ready for your taste buds to be tempted. Here’s what we were treated to:
Who needs a nap after all that deliciousness? We highly recommend a visit to Winston’s, but perhaps tempering it by having only one or two plates. And it’s a great restaurant to hit on Derby weekend for any of their seatings.
Winston’s is located at 3101 Bardstown Road in Louisville. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. They are also open for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To learn more, call (502) 456-0980 or visit winstonsoflouisville.com.
All photos by Krista Walker.