A New Place to Get the Kentucky Experience
With Derby on the horizon, Chef Alison Settle of Barn8 hopes to show tourists the variety of foods Kentucky has to offer.
Alison Settle loved to cook, but she didn’t want to ruin her passion by becoming a chef, or at least that’s what she thought at one time. She worked as an au pair in Germany before deciding that being around food all the time maybe wasn’t such a bad idea. She was 25 years old when she began her studies in culinary arts at Sullivan University’s Lexington, Kentucky, campus.
“We are showcasing the best things that local farmers do,” Alison says. Here she is standing in part of the special event area of the restaurant.
Eventually, she moved to Louisville where she made the rounds at various eateries, including Holy Grale, Pizza Lupo, and Red Hog. It was while Alison was the executive chef at Red Hog that Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, founders of 21c and owners of Hermitage Farm in Goshen, Kentucky, came in and introduced themselves to her. The next day they offered her a position at Barn8, a restaurant that offers a unique food experience at Hermitage Farm.
When tourists come to Kentucky for the Derby, they often arrive wanting to see horses, drink bourbon, and eat Southern cuisine. To accomplish this often entails multiple car trips to at least two separate locations, but Hermitage Farm hopes to be a central location that gives a full taste of what the commonwealth does best.
“It is a three-prong operation that encapsulates the things that Kentucky has to offer in one place 20 minutes outside of Louisville,” Alison says.
In addition to watching Thoroughbreds, guests to Hermitage Farm can see the garden plots as well as a greenhouse. At Barn8, “we are showcasing the best things that local farmers do,” Alison says, which includes getting bison and hogs from nearby Woodland Farm. Barn8’s primary focus will be seasonal food with an emphasis on both Southern cuisine and the foods of indigenous people, which may even include foraging. Alison has a personal interest in foraging and says she has found mushrooms, rosehips, pawpaws, and ramps on the property.
The focus on local food doesn’t mean that Barn8’s menu isn’t also going to have its fair share of experimental dishes. With the greenhouse on-site, Hermitage Farm’s horticulturalists will be able to grow some unusual foods that will make their way to diners’ plates.
With Derby on the horizon, Alison says her hope is to show tourists that Kentucky is more than just fried chicken (which was the only thing many people knew about Kentucky when she worked overseas). “If people come from out-of-town, they’re seeing some progressive and creative stuff,” she says.
A greenhouse on the property allows for fresh vegetables and herbs to be used in the dishes. As well as a few unusual foods the horticulturists will grow.
The bar showcases artwork and comfortable sitting spaces.
Dining areas are actually in repurposed horse stalls.