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Celebrating Kentucky food and those who cook it

There’s nothing like food to satisfy all your senses. It starts with the smell of a meal being prepared. “Here’s your food,” are the words you can’t wait to hear, followed by the sight of a beautiful arrangement on the plate. Then, the special taste of a favorite food that excites your taste buds, the feel of finger foods and finally, the sensation of a full stomach—a satisfaction like no other. 

Five contributors graciously provide their recipes. We hope you have a great time visiting the three featured restaurants and trying out these truly special Kentucky Eats at home. 

PARRETT’S PIES & PASTRIES 

3948 Old Whitley Road, London | (606) 862-9746 

HOURS: 7:30 a.m.–2 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday 

MENU: www.parrettspiesandpastries.com 

Parrett’s Pies & Pastries has a huge variety of pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, fudge and desserts—all homemade. It also offers homemade lunches and a wide catering selection. 

“We love to create a happy experience when it comes to food, says Sheila Parrett, owner and manager of Parrett’s Pies & Pastries. “Chocolate makes us smile.” 

Smiles are abundant at the London shop. Walk in, and delectable smells and beautiful treats engulf your senses. Two big display cases show off an abundant assortment of homemade cookies, cakes, candies, pies, fudge—most anything that is sweet. The sight is overwhelming at first, because there are so many choices. The choice is tough but the tasty reward worth it. 

Parrett says she has always loved to bake. Twenty years ago, she found herself with two young daughters and a husband in school. Money was tight, so she made fried fruit pies from home and sold them for $1 apiece. The business expanded from there until she needed a separate shop. Today, Parrett’s Pies & Pastries occupies about two-thirds of a building, and her husband Mike’s barber shop occupies the rest. 

Parrett says she often hears customers say, “This tastes just like my mother’s,” or grandmother’s—which she considers the highest praise. 

“We bring a piece of the past into the present,” she says 

Try a different twist 

Salads are a staple of summer. This one includes favorite summer veggies. But it also has a twist: Cornbread takes the place of potatoes to add a special Kentucky flavor. 

Gloria Kiser takes her cornbread salad to family get-togethers and church events. It’s always a hit. This one includes all the favorites— tomatoes, green pepper and sweet onion. The taste is reminiscent of old-fashioned potato salad. But the twist is to use cornbread as the base—an artisan mix using buttermilk is best—along with boiled eggs. Kiser got the recipe from her mom, who knew Gloria loved it. 

“Leave it in the refrigerator all night like the recipe says,” advises Kiser “That gives the ingredients time to soak up the mayonnaise, and it tastes a lot better. 

“You have to try it,” says Kiser, who lives in a home served by Grayson RECC. “My family enjoys it.” 

If you prefer a meatless salad, just omit the bacon, and feel free to load up on more veggies. 

Recipe for the generations 

KURTZ RESTAURANT 

418 E. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown | (502) 348-8964 

HOURS: Thursday–Saturday, 4–9 p.m.; Sunday, noon–8 p.m. (hours updating frequently due to pandemic; call ahead) 

MENU: www.kurtzrestaurant.com/kurtz -restaurant 

Old-fashioned eatery serving homestyle Southern meals and classic cocktails since 1937. Dine-in, takeout, delivery. Connected to Parkview Motel. 

“Back in 1937, restaurants had to use every ingredient they had to survive,” says Debbie Fischer, who now runs Kurtz Restaurant with mother Marilyn Kurtz and brother Charles Dick. “Suga (original owner Annette Kurtz) found she often had biscuits left over, so she created a recipe to use them. She also had to take into account the restrictions of the day such as a limit on sugar.” 

Eighty-four years later, her Biscuit Pudding with Bourbon Raisin Sauce is still beloved by regulars. It is one of a few recipes handed down through the generations and the biscuits are baked onsite. 

Recipes weren’t always a part of preparing food in the restaurant and still aren’t used often at Kurtz. Chefs taste as they prepare, and new chefs learn to cook from scratch rather from a recipe. 

Nearby: Another thing that hasn’t changed is Kurtz’s unbeatable location. It is directly across the street from My Old Kentucky Home State Park and the park’s golf course. The park’s amphitheater is the venue for performances of The Stephen Foster Story, Kentucky’s longest running outdoor theater. Also nearby is Wickland, Home of Three Governors. Kurtz Restaurant is also near museum row, which includes the Civil War Museum and the Women’s Civil War Museum. 

Art of gourmet cooking 

Kentucky Living, Louisville 

Although you might not know it, Kentucky Living Editor Anita Travis Richter is also an accomplished chef, who hopes to write a cookbook when she retires. 

“After a long week, my favorite thing to do on a Friday night is cook a gourmet meal and try out new recipes,” says Richter. “It’s art to me.” 

She cooks several times a week for daughter, Claire, and husband, Mark. Claire, a teenager, has already become a foodie herself. She loves more sophisticated dishes and a broader range of foods than many of her friends. 

Some family favorites include: bruschetta with quick-change toppings—aged goat cheese on grilled garlic toast points with beets and beet greens sauteed in balsamic sauce, olive oil and Dijon mustard—chicken pad Thai, 20-topping tacos, healthy grain salad bowls, grilled teriyaki salmon and chicken fettuccine Alfredo.

Richter collects cookbooks and brings home the flavors of the places she visits. The breakfast tortillas bring back fond memories of fresh foods served while visiting her daughter’s birth country.

She came up with the idea for this Kentucky Eats restaurant column that you read monthly in the magazine.

“It makes me proud to join the many great cooks and chefs and home cooks out there,” says Richter. “Please send us your recipes, and you might open Kentucky Living one day and find your family favorite in print, and you’ll get $25 to boot.” 

Go for comfort 

THE NORTH STAR CAFE 

1550 Owenton Road, Corinth | (859) 824-2010 

HOURS: Thursday-Saturday, 4-8 p.m. 

MENU: www.thenorthstarinnandcafe.com 

The North Star Cafe offers country comfort foods and yummy desserts. The adjacent Inn has 13 charming rooms with stars on the quilts. Dining and takeout. 

The pandemic hit The North Star Cafe particularly hard, forcing it to close for five months. The cafe is now back open Thursdays through Saturdays. Every Friday, the restaurant offers a fish fry with all the hand-breaded fish you can eat, accompanied by coleslaw. 

The North Star Cafe is known for its Blue Plate Special. It is served on a blue plate, and the special changes every week. Some of the favorites are chicken pot pie, a shrimp scampi salad, chicken and dumplings and meatloaf. Most of the specials come with vegetables or small salads. 

The North Star Inn is located right next door. “We’re the kind of hotel where you drive right up to your door,” says owner Dawn Henson. “People love that right now because they don’t have to worry about walking down long halls or social distancing. The inn is tasteful and clean. It is a charming place.” 

Nearby: Located 10 minutes from The Ark Encounter, the North Star is just off Interstate 75 at exit 144. The Kentucky Horse Park is 22 minutes away via I-75. Make it a vacation and visit the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky plant, the Creation Museum and Big Bone Lick State Historic Site.

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