The spread will include 3,600 oysters, 8,200 pounds of pasta, and a whole lot of bourbon.

Nina Friend
March 28, 2018

Forget floppy hats and betting on horses. The real reason people love the Kentucky Derby is because of the food. And the drinks. But it isn’t all fried chicken and mint juleps.

For the 144th year of the race at Churchill Downs, which will take place on Saturday, May 5, executive chef David Danielson crafted a menu filled with local ingredients. He told Food & Wine that he believes the decision to combine traditional Kentucky bourbon with fresh produce and meat will “raise the bar on classic Southern dishes in an unexpected way.”

While offerings like cornbread with bourbon honey butter might skew more traditional, the carved roasted turkey breast with bourbon peach glaze speaks to Danielson’s desire to cook up something new.

Though Danielson has only been designing the Kentucky Derby menu since 2013, he said that food has always been a big part of the event. “Attendees come from all over the world just to experience this all-day party ... our signature Mint Julep is as much of a draw as the race itself,” Danielson said. “Even for those who aren’t able to make it to the big race, the right Southern party bites can bring a taste of authenticity into any home, bringing a Derby party to life.”

Here’s the menu that will be served to the 22,000 guests in the premium dining areas at this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Appetizers

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Charred pecans and maple-bourbon reduction

Newsom’s Ham

Roasted beets, Capriole goat cheese and tarragon

Peach and Tomato Caprese Salad

Goat cheese

Chilled Oysters

Country ham-green apple mignonette, fennel, celery and caviar

Cracklins’ with Pimento Cheese

Sides

Cornbread

Bourbon honey butter

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Roasted Carrots

Bourbon butter and fine herbs 

Buttermilk and Chive Smashed Potatoes

Entrées

Mushroom Braised Pork Medallions

Louismill grits and pickled asparagus 

Roasted Turkey Breast

Bourbon peach glaze

Lamb Bolognese Ziti Pasta

Ricotta and mint

Desserts

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Vanilla bean ice cream 

Bourbon Caramel Crème Brûlée

Check out these recipes for tips on throwing your own Southern-style bash.