Recently we had the great opportunity to interview Chef David Danielson. David is the Executive Chef at Churchill Downs and Chef/Proprietor of The Old Stone Inn & Tavern in Simpsonville, Kentucky.
With the Kentucky Derby upon us, my wife and I went to Dawn at the Downs at Churchill Downs to watch the Oaks and Derby contenders work out as they get ready for their big day. One of the things included in the ticket price was a trip to the breakfast buffet. I have eaten at a few buffets and this was as nice as any I had eaten before. (Well, except this one did not have the ice statue present.. ha ha). All these people and all this food… started me thinking about the podcast interview with Chef David Danielson, the Executive Chef at Churchill Downs. Yes, the guy ultimately responsible for 4000 staff serving 165,000 people for the Kentucky Derby.
Why, would Chef D, someone who has traveled the world and been responsible for dining experiences at such huge events as the Olympics, take the time out a very busy schedule to talk to a couple of guys with a podcast about the culture in and around bourbon? In order to really find out the answer to this one needs to head over to Chef D’s other enterprise in Simpsonville, Kentucky called The Old Stone Inn & Tavern. A charming restaurant and tavern, The Old Stone Inn, built with stonework from the late 1700’s, sits along an old route from Louisville to Lexington. It is also on the National Historic Registry.
Guests are welcomed whether they are in blue jeans or still dressed up as they come from work or the race track. The food is exceptional and the portions are bigger than would be expected. Rob, the Bar Manager will make you one of the best Old Fashioned cocktails around and Chef de Cuisine Jeremiah and staff do a great job of making sure that things flow seamless during Chef D’s absence. One of the things that Chef likes to do when he is there is come out and talk to the guests dining at The Old Stone Inn. Many nights these guests, many made up of locals, will tell Chef that they are so glad that he reopened the Old Stone Inn with his flair for style and uniqueness. He could spend his time hanging out with celebrities, which he does, but feels just as comfortable having conversations with the local folk.
As casual as the Old Stone inn is there is still an underlying essence of class that Chef has put into this venture as he pulls from his experience in international and big city, New York, Chicago style cuisine. Having only recently gotten to know Chef, I am beginning to see what makes him so good. He is all about the people and the local food which makes the product much like the man himself… casually classy.
Cheers! Randy Minnick