When it comes to Kentucky and food, Italian cuisine isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But, hidden away from downtown Louisville in the quaint Crescent Hill neighborhood is Volare Ristorante. A shining star in Louisville’s fine dining scene, and home to one of this years “Chopped Champion” chefs. You might ask, “What is The Bourbon Road is doing in an Italian restaurant”? Well, we’re drinking bourbon of course… with Chef Joshua Moore.

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Josh Moore, Executive Chef and Partner at Volare Ristorante knew he was destined to be a chef at a the very young age of 14. So, he set off to achieve that dream. As a pastry assistant at Vincenzo’s Italian restaurant in downtown Louisville he took every opportunity to learn and master the art of cooking. Learning from chefs and putting in the hours in to earn their respect.   

Moore’s moment of discovery came at Vincenzo’s, one of Louisville’s top restaurants, where his stepfather was a server and his mother worked in catering. There he gradually talked his way into working under Augustino Gabriele as the assistant pastry chef before he could even drive

This hard work and dedication would lead him to be named a head chef at the young age of 22. Since those early days he strived for success with determination and a solid work ethic. Twenty-nineteen has been his year after winning Food Network’s hit series Chopped in season 40, episode 10 (Deadly Catch). He was also named Chef of the Year by the Certified Angus Beef® brand, a rare accomplishment for an Italian Chef. This is the second time Josh has received recognition from Certified Angus Beef® brand, as Volare received the Restaurant Marketer of the Year award for specialty beef dishes in 2015.

For our first pour Jim and I selected Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon. It is crafted by roasting the rye malt to a level that its natural sugars caramelized into a dark chocolate note. This bourbon is presented at 90.4 proof, and contains a mash bill comprised of 70% corn, 15% chocolate malted rye, 15% distillers malt.

The name hit the nail on the head. The nose is of soft mocha, delicate caramel and roasted nuts. With the first sip the chocolate hits you like a rich candy bar. There is almost a chocolate covered cherry flavor with a bit of baking spice on the back end. It finishes leaving you thinking maybe I should find another bottle of this before it is all gone.

Josh takes us through what they cook at Volare and how his farm is a major producer of what they serve at the restaurant. Josh and his wife own a small farm just outside of Taylorsville KY and provides the true farm to table experience at the restaurant. It has grown in 14 years from a dozen tomato plants to almost three acres of produce and “…it’s played a large part in the success of the restaurant,” says Josh. They are raising 60 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and more than 1,300 plants this year.

Josh has brought for our second pour, Old Forester 1910 (Old Fine Whiskey). This bourbon just keeps showing up on or episodes, so Jim and I are no strangers to it. This familiar bourbon has an aroma of heavy oak and smooth caramels. It hits the lips and tongue with a sugary goodness that is certainly a result of the of the heavy char. Dark cherries and with hints of toasted marshmallows are present with its sticky mouthfeel. The finish lingered with a hint of worn leather and tobacco. We all agree that this bourbon needs nothing more. It is a true sipper.

Josh is very involved in the bourbon culture partnering with Distillers such as (Old Forester) for the March of Dimes and (Makers Mark) for Apron Inc. How does he find a free moment with farming, philanthropy and a cooking. Oh! and he is a heavy weight lifter as well. How else would he lift those giant fish for the restaurants signature fish Friday! Check him out on the Restaurant’s Facebook page with pictures of him lifting these monstrous creatures flown in from around the world.

Make sure to stop by Volare if you’re out on The Bourbon Trail and ask to talk to the Chef. Tell him Jim and Big Chief sent you. You won’t be disappointed in your meal or their bourbon selection of over 100 bottles of America’s Native Spirt.

Until then sit back and pour yourself your favorite bourbon and listen as Jim and I head on down The Bourbon Road discussing Chef Josh Moore’s successful career while enjoying to fantastic bourbons.

Mike (Big Chief)