A Taste of the Taste of Derby

Deep within the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) walls lies a team of eight dedicated culinary professionals who move around the main kitchen as if they’re in the middle of a synchronized dance on a stage. Even deeper within the walls of the facility, in fact, it’s in the basement, are two women who put their pastry skills to the test daily in the pastry kitchen. The teams are part of Levy Restaurants and are KICC’s in-house catering group.  

While in separate sections of the building, these two teams work in tandem as they cater the many events that take over KICC. They offer an elevated culinary experience that fits perfectly into the downtown Louisville food scene. From hors d’oeuvre to main courses and finishing with decadent delights, the Levy team at KICC can hit every note of your palate.   

They showcased their talents most recently at the Churchill Downs-sponsored Taste of Derby – a pre-Derby event highlighting food from over a dozen chefs around the country. This was the first year KICC hosted the annual event, and from the food to the fashion to the atmosphere and the music, it was a success! Part of that success is owed to Levy Restaurants and its team.

The culinary team created passed hors d’oeuvre and desserts. Not only did the team cater to the Taste of Derby with delectable delights, but they did it all while serving others, like the Derby Diversity Summit at KICC and even helping out Churchill Downs.    

Executive Pastry Chef Irene O’Shaughnessy and her team were tasked with helping the Levy team at Churchill Downs for Derby week. They did so gracefully and efficiently, cranking out 600 pink chocolate, hand-painted lilies for the Oaks, and another 600 red chocolate roses for the Derby. These adorned various desserts served at Churchill Downs. Back in-house, Chef O’Shaughnessy curated two desserts for the Taste of Derby that had nods to the Bluegrass state: a Mint Julep Panna Cotta complete with bourbon gummy “ice” cubes, that was almost too pretty to eat (don’t worry…no one hesitated to devour them) and a Buttermilk Pie Tartlet with smoked bourbon sugar and Caramelita Fleur de Lis.

The main kitchen had no shortage of food to make the day of the event. The team, run by Executive Sous Chef Sebastian “Seabass” Boynton, was tasked with cooking and serving hundreds of breakfast plates and plated dinners to guests at the Derby Diversity Business Summit the day of Taste of Derby. The regular crew even got some helping hands from the Levy team at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Together, they flawlessly executed the orders for Derby Diversity and whipped up five different hors d’oeuvre, including Mini open-faced Benedictine Toast Points; Grilled Brioche Crostinis with local honey goat cheese, Broadbent bacon jam, and KY Proud shaved bison; Lamb pimento meatballs; KY Mac & cheese beignet, KY Proud Burnt ends with an apple and chive gremolata; and hot brown empanadas with Pimento White Cheddar mornay sauce. 

These were all served to the guests at Taste of Derby along with the different chef stations, which featured chefs like Louisville-local Damaris Phillips, Lexington-local Sam Fore, Aaron Bludorn, Jimmy Canora, and many others. Shining among all of them was the Levy KICC team. Their creativity and energy were felt throughout KICC for the Taste of Derby and every event they cater.