From the red carpet entrance to the brightly colored decorations, this year’s Taste of Derby embraced its’ guests in a warm, friendly and festive atmosphere.
Celebrity chef and Food Network superstar Bobby Flay made his appearance shortly after 8:00. Though he was quickly flanked by anxious fans requesting (and in many cases, receiving) photos and handshakes, he made his way through the crowd with smiles and nods all around.
Later, Chef Flay was one of the celebrity judges for the Creekstone Farms Burger Showdown, showcasing three student chefs from Sullivan University.
But Al Roker, Jenna Wolfe, Niki Taylor and Raven Symone, all confirmed on the guest list, were nowhere to be seen. That doesn’t mean, however, that they weren’t in attendance. With 1,200 tickets sold, finding your left hand was difficult, let alone a star in the midst of a swarm. The lack of noticeable stars didn’t seem to disappoint the rest of the guests, though; the real stars of this night were the ones served up on plates.
The food. Oh…the food. With sixteen stations serving beautifully presented dishes, the event was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Each station was staffed by a chef and team from different restaurants across the United States. Despite having to create and keep the integrity of so many individual portions, the teams performed beautifully. Chef Nancy Longo from Pierpoint in Baltimore began composing 1,269 crab cakes at 9:00 in the morning…and by 9:00 at night, they were still amazing.
Each dish was paired with a signature wine from 14 Hands Winery, a friendly company out of Washington, named, quite aptly, after the process for measuring horses.
Finding a place to enjoy those wines, however, was a bit tricky. With only sparse high-top seating throughout the venue, guests struggled to balance food, wine, cameras and high heels. Many ended up taking refuge on curbs and rocks throughout the patio area.
Around 10:00 pm, Burning Las Vegas, a Nashville-based band, exploded onto the stage. Their high-energy renditions of Motown and 80’s classics lit a spark under the stuffed and serene crowd, and kicked them back into party mode.
In its’ second year, the Taste of Derby appears to have all the makings to become a successful Derby tradition; and with its’ commitment to donate partial proceeds to organizations like Dare to Care, it’s definitely a worthy one.