Like many food enthusiasts, Wild Thyme founder Allison Davis started early. She began cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen when she was just seven years old. Later, she helped her mother with her catering business. From those experiences, she developed an early appreciation for food which led to cooking competitions, demonstrations, and eventually, culinary school.
Realizing there was an unmet need in the marketplace for a venue combining education, ambiance, and fine food, Allison united her love of cooking and business and launched Wild Thyme in 2011—a unique culinary experience and the first of its kind in Lexington.
“I often describe Wild Thyme as a culinary event center because most of our functions are completely customized,” she said. “We offer corporate team building, Iron Chef inspired challenges, holiday functions, a fully decorated venue space with an open kitchen, and much more.”
If you’re unsure what type of cooking class is right for you, you can visit Wild Thyme at 1060 Chinoe Road, Suite 108. One of their friendly staff members can answer all your questions about cooking classes, events, tastings, weekly meals, and demos that are conducted throughout the month. You can also browse and sign up for classes online at wildthymecooking.com. Their culinary boutique is filled with new products and tested gadgets that make cooking at home fast and fun.
For the little ones, check out their “Curious Chef” classes for kids. “The kitchen is the perfect place to ignite creativity and to introduce children to a whole new world of food,” said Allison. “Social and math skills are put to the test, and ‘little chefs’ can whip, mix, knead, sift, and measure to their hearts’ content.”
For the busy hostess, Wild Thyme Catering is an ideal solution for delicious meals that will leave guests satisfied and telling their friends. Clients can choose from gorgeous party platters, chef inspired hors d’oeuvres, breakfast, lunch, or private dining options. “We take pride in the details and draw attention to the beauty of fresh and locally sourced food,” said Allison. Wild Thyme’s warm and inviting state-of-the-art kitchen can be utilized for just about any private event you can imagine—from rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, or that special first date. And for those aspiring product developers or cooks interested in starting a small business, commercial kitchen rental is also available.
Too busy to cook during the week? “We are proud to offer a weekly meal service that provides our clients and their families with healthy meals for those busy weeknights,” Allison said. As the first paleo-inspired meal program in Lexington, each meal is created with locally grown Kentucky Proud produce and grass-fed, pasture-raised meats. Participation in the weekly meal service is easy. Each Tuesday, Wild Thyme posts a new menu of meal options. Just place your order by Saturday at 5pm, and the following Monday, Allison and her team will prepare your meals for the week from scratch. All have to do is pick up your order at Wild Thyme on Monday or Tuesday. You can also arrange for delivery for an additional charge.
Those looking for an unforgettable dining experience will love Wild Thyme’s Chef’s Table Dinners. Each Friday, guests can sit back and relax as their chefs put on a show and create a delicious 4-course dinner.
When asked what Wild Thyme developments she’s excited about right now,
Allison replied, “We really try to offer a lot of healthy alternatives. We have a number of gluten-free and paleo lifestyle classes coming up. And this month, we have a wonderful new chef who has traveled the world and will teach international fusion recipes from places like Scandanavia, Spain, and Singapore.”
Where are you from? I am a born and raised Kentucky girl. I’m from Richmond, and I’ve lived in Lexington for 15 years.
How did you start Wild Thyme? I started by helping my mom with her catering business and realized I enjoyed working with food. I went to EKU for business, and then Sullivan University for culinary school. I did work in restaurants for a little while, but I’m mostly self-made. When I started Wild Thyme, I just built my clientele and went from there.
Food-wise, what’s your guilty pleasure? Bring on the meat!
What is one of your leadership secrets? At Wild Thyme, we are a team. That is our biggest mantra. My team doesn’t work for me, they work with me. We all do what it takes—whether it’s cleaning, washing dishes, or anything else that needs to be done.
What is one of your favorite places to eat in Lexington? I love to go out for sushi, and I’m quite fond of Buddha Lounge and Tomo.
What would you order for your last meal? I’d go a little bit country and a little bit gourmet. Fried chicken and chateaubriand steak (center cut beef tenderloin).
What do you enjoy doing on your time off? I just love spending time with my family and friends.
When it comes to restaurants, what is one of your pet peeves? Poor service. I don’t mind paying extra for a quality experience all around. When the service is bad, it can ruin a great meal.
Fennel & Mushroom Risotto
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, morel or porcini
1 cup sliced fennel bulb
½ teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅔ cup Arborio or medium-grain rice
2 cups chicken bone broth
splash of Sherry Wine
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
Pinch of Saffron Threads
4 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
⅓ cup thinly sliced green onion
1 tablespoon snipped fennel leaves
½ cup of Gruyere Cheese
Fennel leaves (optional)
In a medium saucepan cook mushrooms, sliced fennel bulb, and fennel seed in hot olive oil until tender. Stir in uncooked Arborio or medium-grain rice. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
Carefully stir in sherry and let reduce then add the broth, salt, and pepper, and saffron. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (do not lift cover).
Remove from heat. Stir in asparagus, green onion and cheese. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. The rice should be tender but slightly firm, and the mixture should be creamy. If necessary, stir in a little water to reach the desired consistency.
Stir in snipped fennel leaves. If desired, garnish risotto with additional fennel leaves. Makes 4 servings.
COOKING CLASS: How to Pan Sear Halibut
A versatile and easy-to-cook white fish, halibut combines a light, sweet flavor with a firm texture. The fish is also packed with nutritional benefits, including being high in protein yet low in calories, while also containing a healthy serving of potassium. The mild flavor of halibut allows it to be paired with a wide variety of herbs, spices, seasonings and sauces. There are many ways to prepare halibut; pan searing gives the fish a crispy outside yet without absorbing large amounts of oil.
Step 1: Pat the halibut dry with paper towels before cooking it. Excess moisture can cause the fish to stick to the pan and cause steam, which can make it difficult for the fish to obtain a crispy outside. Season the fish to your liking.
Step 2: Use a skillet that can withstand high heat, such as one that is made of cast iron, stainless steel or aluminum.
Step 3: Warm your skillet by placing it over medium to high heat on the stove. Add your preferred type of fat. Choose a fat that can withstand high heat, such as grapeseed, safflower or canola oil.
Step 4: Place the halibut into the pan, skin-side down if appropriate. Press lightly on the fish with a spatula to keep it flat in the pan while it is cooking.
Step 5: Allow the fish to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until a crust has formed on the bottom. Flip the halibut over, cook for 1 more minute and then remove it from heat.