Huge staff works to prepare food for Derby Week - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Huge staff works to prepare food for Derby Week

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We've all seen how intense it can get inside a working kitchen, through TV shows like "Hell's Kitchen." That show only showcases feeding people in a dining room, but what about when thousands upon thousands at Churchill Downs are expecting a good meal?

"Things get a little bit fever pitched," said Executive Chef, David Danielson.

That responsibility sits on his shoulders.

Danielson is no Gordon Ramsey, but he could have a lot to scream about.  

"It gets very busy. We have tons and tons of food moving through here," Danielson said.

Just one packed cooler has 6,000 pounds of New York Strip.

"That's just for one day," he added.

The Chef and his crew of 4,000 hospitality workers take on long hours, out of the seven kitchens at Churchill Downs to feed thousands upon thousands.

"I usually get here at about 2 in the morning, work till about 6 at night," said Sous-Chef,  

From concessions to Millionaire's Row, they cook it all.

This isn't Danielson's first rodeo. It's his sixth Derby, and before that his resume was already full.

"Super Bowls, U.S. Opens, Tennis, Indianapolis 500," he explained. 

That experience is how he knows having a carefully orchestrated plan in place by the August before Derby is a must. That starts with tastings. 

"We really watch, you know, are people coming back for seconds of it? Are people getting one spoon of it, or two spoons of it?" said Danielson.

Then, it's on to a spreadsheet on a computer in his office for number crunching. 

Every cook, piece of fish ,and onion must be accounted for to make food service at Thurby, Oaks, and the Run for the Roses happen. 

"We have no do-overs," he added.

For a seasoned chef like Danielson, it's just another day's work, but even he'll admit each Derby he works ends up being his biggest challenge yet.

"I've never seen another event that even compares to the size and scope of what we're trying to do here," he said.

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