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The perfect Kentucky Derby appetizer returns Thursday, May 3 as Churchill Downs stages its third annual Taste of Derby - a celebration of cuisine and racing on the eve of the Kentucky Oaks. One of this year's hopefuls will drop by to show us the appetizer he hopes will bring home the title.
Taste of Derby attendees will mingle with horse racing and Hollywood celebrities and savor exquisite cuisine and delectable wines from racing destinations across the country as nationally-renowned chefs serve samples of their regional specialties.
The hottest new Kentucky Derby party, which attracted more than 1,000 guests a year ago, moves to the Louisville Executive Aviation Hangar at Bowman Field in 2012 to accommodate its growing demand. Tickets to the May 3 Taste of Derby - the Official Kentucky Derby Party of Churchill Downs - are $300 and include a red carpet entry starting at 7 p.m., food and wine tastings until 10 p.m., premium open bar until 11 p.m., complimentary valet service, and live entertainment by one of Nashville's hottest dance bands, Burning Las Vegas.
The roster of award-winning chefs participating in this year's Taste of Derby include Brian Malarkey and Eli Kirshtein, alumni of Bravo TV's "Top Chef" series; Nancy Longo of Baltimore's Pierpoint Restaurant; Carrie Nahabedian of Chicago's Naha Restaurant; Kent Rathbun of Dallas' Abacus; Troy Guard of Denver's TAG; Musabbeh Al Kaabi of Dubai's Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel; Ouita Michel of Midway, Ky.'s Holly Hill Inn; Jo-Jo Doyle of Churchill Downs' Levy Restaurants; Anthony Llamas of Louisville's Seviche Restaurant; Michael Paley of Louisville's Proof on Main; Tory McPhail of New Orleans' Commander's Palace; Nicolas Bour of San Diego's El BiZCOCH and Bart Vandaele of Washington D.C.'s Belga Café for Stella Artois.
For a complete listing of participating chefs, additional event information or to purchase tickets, visit the event Web site at TasteofDerby.com. Last year's event sold out so attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets early.
The state of Washington's 14 Hands Vineyards has been named the official Taste of Derby wine sponsor and will showcase its wines at each chef station with a pairing to compliment the cuisine. In addition, 14 Hands will have a sampling station that will showcase a special selection of exquisite new world wines.
Additional Taste of Derby beverage partners add international flair. Award-winning Hendrick's Gin is crafted in Scotland and Stella Artois, the Official Beer Sponsor of Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, is the number one Belgian beer in the world.
Kentucky's own Woodford Reserve, the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, will serve as the bourbon sponsor for Taste of Derby. Also, Creekstone Farms Premium Black Angus Beef will present the second annual "Chef Showdown" at Taste of Derby where three culinary student finalists from Sullivan University in Louisville will compete for scholarships by creating a potentially award-winning dish in 20 minutes.
Through the Churchill Downs Incorporated Foundation, partial proceeds from Taste of Derby will go to its new official charitable recipient, Blessings in a Backpack. Blessings in a Backpack is a Louisville-born charity that is growing nationally as it fulfills its commitment to "Feeding the Future of America."
"Blessings in a Backpack is proud of our partnership with Churchill Downs and the extraordinary Taste of Derby," said Blessings in a Backpack founder Stan Curtis. "Because of this powerful partnership and what it stands for, many American school children are going to have better nutrition in their lives."
In addition, partial proceeds of Taste of Derby go to hunger relief organizations in areas represented by the participating chefs. In just two years, a total of $121,000 has been contributed to hunger relief organizations around the world through the event.
Taste of Derby is modeled after the popular Taste of the NFL, a 20-year-old event founded by nationally known restaurateur and 2010 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Wayne Kostroski. Churchill Downs partnered with Kostroski in 2010 to create Taste of Derby to expose Louisvillians and the thousands of out-of-town guests who visit the Kentucky Derby annually to these great racing communities across the country and the regional flavors that make them as unique as the Derby City.