MURRAY — Bourbon, bacon, butter. In Kentucky, they make the world go ‘round.
For the past two Tuesdays, they have been at the center of a contest sponsored by Kentucky Main Street Inc. to see which culinary aces can create the best dishes from those ingredients. The local competition was last week, while Tuesday involved regional events to narrow the field for the state event in Covington two weeks from now.
The Western Regional of the Bourbon, Bacon and Butter Challenge was in Murray Tuesday afternoon, and it will be an apple-based dish from nearby Cadiz that will uphold the honor of the west.
“I’m excited. I’m ready to go right now,” said Yolonda Lynch, creator of the Apple Crisp with a Kick entry that took top honors in Murray yesterday. Second place went to the Murray entry of AnneMarie Tanner, Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie. Both desserts included all three ingredients.
“I’ve had that recipe for over 40 years, so I saw (an ad from Cadiz-Trigg County Main Street Director Leida Tackett) on Facebook a few days before our competition and said, ‘I’m entering this.’ The problem is I got sick, then our competition crept up on us and I actually had a different item I wanted to do. I didn’t decide to go with (the crisp) until two days before our competition, and I’m glad I did.”
Awaiting Lynch and the other competitors in Covington will be a well-known judge, Jason Smith of Grayson, who won The Food Network’s 13th season of “Food Network Star” and the third season of the network’s “Holiday Baking Championship.” He will help determine the statewide winner during the Kentucky Main Street Conference later this month.
“This highlights the Kentucky Proud program (emphasizing Kentucky-produced foods), while playing off the state tourism mantra ‘Better in the Bluegrass,’” said Murray Main Street Program Manager Deana Wright.
The best part of this activity belonged to the judges. Tuesday’s trio consisted of Amanda Newman, Justin Kimbro and Marcie Hinton, all of whom wasted little time in utilizing their cellphone cameras to capture the creations they enjoyed.
“Why are we doing that? To brag about our jobs,” Hinton said of eventually posting her images on social media.
Kimbro said his role fit him well, being that his everyday job as a graphics designer deals with art.
“And art is art,” he said as he stared at the presentations of the entries. Lynch’s entry came complete with the crisps in ramequins parked atop cylinders of wood with a small bottle of Jim Beam displayed for effect. She said she displayed a full fifth bottle for the Cadiz event and will probably return to the larger bottle in Covington.
“I am a creator. I even create my food dishes and I can also say that food is art,” Kimbro added.
All three judges awarded perfect scores for the Cadiz entry. And for Newman, there were not many other things she would rather be doing Tuesday afternoon.
“These have bourbon, right? Eating dessert that has bourbon and bacon in it? It doesn’t get any better,” Newman said.