Reflections: Cane Ridge James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour Paris KY

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life and Chefs

Appetizers featured Cane Ridge Cattle Company's Wagyu Beef

James Beard Chefs in the Bluegrass

How I Got To This Destination

Back in February I started cushaw seeds under the lights; something I never do. But when Chef Jeremy Ashby said he wanted cushaws for the James Beard Event, I needed to get a jump on the growing season. Cushaws take a long time to mature; and there was no way I was going to disappoint Ashby. To have Friends Drift Inn Farm cushaws featured at a James Beard event is a big deal for a small farm like ours.

A few weeks before the dinner I visited with Cane Ridge Cattle Company manager, Grant Robinson. Touring the farm I got a sense of what Wagyu Cattle are all about.

The Back Story Cushaws and Cattle; Chef Jeremy Ashby Cane Ridge Wagyu Cattle

It is not always the main event that conveys the story; it is all the steps in the journey to get there.

In the garden with cushaws, in the pastures with cattle, these are the things that make me happy to be alive. To have lived that back story of garden dirt and cows on the back forty, and to see how those cushaws and cattle came to be presented on such an awe inspiring menu left me breathless.

Cocktails on the Lawn

Lavinia Clay and Grant Robinson Cocktails Cane Ridge James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour

Cocktails with Rhoda on the lawn at Glenwood Mansion came none too soon. The setting was elegant, with softly lit party tents and a soothing Kentucky sunset. A bar was nestled on a corner of the lawn, and wait staff moved from group to group circulating appetizers prepared by Master Chef Bernard Guillas, Chef Aaron Butts, Chef Jeff Newman and Chef Jeremy Ashby.

The Clay family was very gracious, mingling and greeting guests. Hostess Lavinia Clay led several tours of the mansion.

James Beard Celebrity Chefs Coordinator Jeff Black with Chefs Aaron Butts and Jeff Newman

I confess we “jumped ship” to get a few behind the scenes shots of the chefs in action.

The Main Event

James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour Cane Ridge Paris KY

  • Chef Guillas presented Chilled Verbena Juniper Berry Cured Wagyu Beef
  • Chef Newman presented Soft Boiled Egg with Cheese Grits, Ramps and Jowl Bacon
  • Chef Ashby presented Squab with Kentucky Crab Apple and Foie Gras
  • Chef Butts presented Wagyu Beef with vegetables

Sweet Endings

Dessert Plate James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour Paris KY 2012

Each chef concocted a sweet for the grand finale. All of the desserts were spectacular; but I felt my throat tighten with emotion as my fork cut through Ashby’s Brown Sugar Cushaw Tart. The adventure that started way back in February under the grow lights had come to a close. I was humbled to have a tiny part in the bigger story.


James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Cane Ridge Farm Glenwood Mansion Paris KY

It is no small undertaking to feed 150 folks a gourmet meal using temporary kitchen space, a local wait staff and an outdoor setting. Thanks to the Clay family at Cane Ridge Cattle Company, the talented chefs who labored so hard to make each dish memorable, and the James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour.

Disclaimer: I am not compensated by Cane Ridge, the chefs and/or their restaurants, or the James Beard Foundation. Rhoda and I paid for our meal, and for travel and lodging.

A special shoutout to Chef Jeff Newman’s family for sharing the giggles throughout this event! I look forward to seeing y’all again!

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Cushaw Pie, Cattle and Chefs
More About Cane Ridge Cattle
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My Cushaw Pie Recipe

About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.