Sources in C-J article claim Louisvillians aren’t ready for authentic Mexican food: Check out this article written by Courier-Journal reporter Jere Downs: It basically quotes several restaurateurs saying authentic Mexican food doesn’t sell in Louisville because Louisvillians aren’t ready for it.
One of several questions that came to mind as I read this: Did these owners really blame only customers for not receiving their authentic Mexican food with open mouths? Could they blame themselves for not determining ahead of time whether this market wanted such food? How much market research was done to determine locals really wanted those fantastic, complex and labor-intense authentic molés mentioned in the story?
My guess is they saw the spread of authentic Mexican cuisine elsewhere in the U.S. and assumed it would catch on here also. And you could count me among those who thought it would, too. Yet that didn’t happen at those restaurants.
Yet authentic Yucatan and Mexican cuisine has been served at the Mayan Café for nearly two decades, but its owners weren’t interviewed for the story. Why not?
And what is chef Bruce Ucan doing at Mayan Café that works there but didn’t work elsewhere?
Here’s at least one important answer to that question: The restaurant is small now (40 seats) and it’s likely going to stay a small place for the long term since small is the audience size for that cuisine here.
FWIW, when people ask for my favorite restaurants, the Mayan Café is always on the list, but I suggest it with this caveat: “It’s Mexican like you’ve never seen it.” In other words, don’t expect chips and salsa on the tables or sombreros on the walls.
Someday maybe Louisvillians will catch on to the great food now gone from the menu at El Camino (love that place, too) and Doc’s Cantina (which is finally finding its footing). But in the meantime, I see no reason to blame locals for those restaurants’ struggles to figure out the menu mix. Both places are run by great operators who took a shot but missed the target. Bravo for having the guts to at least try something bold and different.
Heroin O.D. claims life of cook: Facebook friends shared the tragic news this week of the heroin overdose death of Derek Coleman, a young cook in the Louisville restaurant scene. Griffin Paulin, chef and owner of an upcoming noodle restaurant dubbed Mirin, took to his Kitchen Banter blog to express outrage over the loss of Coleman. Another friend of Coleman’s actually threatened to kill anyone he found selling heroin. (Needless to say, we’ll bypass linking to that post.)
What was a “ghetto problem” when I was growing up in the 1970s has become a citywide problem. It’s not surprising to find restaurant workers using heroin given the high rate of drug use in the trade. As Rick Redding mentioned on our podcast this week, the Jeffersontown Police told him heroin use and overdoses have become their top problem. And last week, leaders at Louisville Metro Corrections told the media they cannot detox heroin users fast enough to get them clean and effectively manage the next wave of overdosed inmates.
Tune in next week when Paulin and at least one more guest chef will be on the podcast to discuss this scourge creeping into restaurant kitchens.
UPDATE: Due to a scheduling issue, this interview will be moved to late June.
Phenomenal Whitehall dinner hosted by Michter’s American Whiskeys: So this is Bourbon Affair week, which means spirits writers get invited to events about which distillers hope they write. Some are at actual distilleries, while others are at high-falutin’ spots such as Whitehall on Lexington Road. The 1909 home has been meticulously restored and its grounds are so tidy that I’d eat sunny-side up eggs off the lawn. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point: the place is remarkable in every way.
Last night Michter’s hosted a garden party and paired dinner there, and it led me to remark to my wife that the next blog I start is going to be called, “Places Steve Gets Invited to For Unexplained Reasons.” The chance to enjoy such privileges because I write for a living is an amazing treat, and I’m grateful for it.
So here’s what I got to see, sip and eat that you didn’t because you picked a better paying line of work that had you in court or in surgery or staring at a stock ticker yesterday.
Harvest chef Patrick Roney, backed by an amazing crew of talented chefs, served a four-course meal with cocktails created by four of the town’s top bartenders: Eric Wentworth (The Hub), Jeremy Johnson (Meta), Beth Burrows (Down One Bourbon Bar) and Damien Cooke (Proof On Main). I don’t readily recall a meal where the food and drink paired so perfectly. (Heck, as parting gifts, the crowd got a small bound book containing recipes for the night’s cocktails. We’ll see how well I do at home trying to recreate one of them!)
Below are some fabulous photos and descriptions. All I can say in closing is, lucky me, lucky me.