Celebrity chefs to cook during WEG

The stars of the equine world aren't the only celebrities who will come to Lexington next fall for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. A group of celebrity chefs is coming, too.

Organizers announced Wednesday a series of dinners during the Games, Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, at which local chefs will pair with cooks from all over the country for "Cookin' in the Bluegrass: A Celebrity Chef Dinner Series."

The James Beard Foundation, a national non-profit culinary organization, has partnered with the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and the Games' organizers to put on the event. Tickets to each of the nightly dinners at the Horse Park's Farmhouse Restaurant will be available at in early 2010. Prices have not been set.

Each dinner will feature two celebrity chefs, many of whom are winners of the prestigious James Beard Award, and one local or Kentucky-based chef cooking side by side, providing dinner for as many as 80 guests.

The idea came from Don Pritchard, owner of Global Food Service Solutions, which is coordinating food service at the Games. Pritchard said he organized similar events at the 2002 Winter Olympics is Salt Lake City.

"We're trying to create some excitement around the food service program during the Games, particularly in regard to local food," he said. He began working with the Beard Foundation and the Horse Park Foundation, which led him to the Kentucky Proud program. He said most of the celebrity chefs have worked with the Beard Foundation and were interested in ways to showcase local culinary traditions.

"What's in it for them is their continuing support for working with sustainable food items and the opportunity to work with other great chefs from other regions," Pritchard said. "These are the best and the brightest, and they're looking at ways to give back."

The participating chefs include:

John Besh, Restaurant August, New Orleans.

Philippe Boulot, The Heathman at the Heathman Hotel, Portland, Ore.

Clifford Buittano and Anne Quatrano, Bacchanalia, Atlanta.

Sanford D'Amato, Sanford Restaurant, Milwaukee.

Roberto Donna, Galileo, Washington, D.C.

José Garces, winner of The Next Iron Chef 2009 on the Food Network and chef at Amada, Philadelphia.

Mark Kiffin, The Compound restaurant, Santa Fe, N.M.

Mike Lata, Fig, Charleston, S.C.

Christopher Lee, Aureole, New York.

Emily Luchetti, Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco.

George Mavrothalassaitis, Chef Mavro Restaurant, Honolulu.

Nancy Oakes, Boulevard restaurant, San Francisco.

Vitaly Paley, Paley's Place Bistro and Bar, Portland, Ore.

Joachim B. Splichal, Patina Restaurant Group, New York.

Mark Vetri, Vetri, Philadelphia.

The Central Kentucky chefs have not been announced.

"The James Beard Foundation is honored to be part of an event that allows a diverse group of chefs to share their culinary points of view with a whole new audience," said Susan Ungaro, president of the foundation. "Our 2010 Games dinners will pair the best local and national chefs in America's great Southern region, where we celebrate so many of our nation's deepest culinary roots."

Next spring, the Beard Foundation will offer a coinciding "Bluegrass Experience" at the James Beard House in New York to mark the Games' culinary events.

Sponsors include the Kentucky Proud Program, dedicated to marketing Kentucky-made or Kentucky-grown food products (funded in part by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund and administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture). Kentucky Proud will help provide fresh, local ingredients for use every night of Cookin' in the Bluegrass.

Proceeds from Cookin' in the Bluegrass will benefit the Beard Foundation, the Horse Park Foundation and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

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