When Lexington, Kentucky chef Jonathan Lundy wants to incorporate local product into his restaurant’s menu, he calls on his friends at the Maker’s Mark Bourbon distillery in Loretto. And it’s not just the bourbon he’s after.
“The bung plugs are in contact with the bourbon for 5-9 years,” he explains of the contents of his care package to Michael, pictured. “When they want to check, or pour out the barrel they use a drill to remove the walnut plug and this destroys it… They have been sending them to me for about the past five years.”
Michael will join host Lundy and chef Traci des Jardins for Cookin’ in the Bluegrass, 16 days of James Beard Foundation culinary events around the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky. The working menu, below, for their September 25 opening dinner for 80 features a host of Kentucky-branded favorites, including Michael’s bung plug-smoked bacon.
So far, we’ve smoked baby eggplant, kumamoto oysters, mussels, and octopus for two small dishes in Miami: smoked baby eggplant with albert’s organic ricotta, housemade pancetta, and artichoke salad (11,) and smoked seafood salad with kumamoto oysters, mussels, octopus, harissa, meyer lemon, olives, and capers (12.)
“It’s not like you can taste bourbon, but it does impart a little sweetness to the flavor profile of a dish,” Michael explains. “Yeah, we’re definitely gonna play around with some different things.”