By Amanda Harper


Johnathan Searle | Lockbox

Searle’s culinary résumé includes legendary local eateries like Dudley’s on Short, Bourbon n’ Toulouse, Bellini’s and Proof on Main, the acclaimed restaurant at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville. Lockbox showcases fresh ingredients that are grown and produced locally. The seasonal menus make the most of Kentucky’s bounty, featuring dishes that reflect our state’s unique food culture.

167 W. Main St. | 859.899.6860 |

Tanya Whitehouse |The Food Connection

Part learning kitchen, part classroom, The Food Connection is a unique concept that fosters both the future of food and the connections between suppliers, growers, chefs and diners. Whitehouse graduated from the Sullivan University culinary program and worked as the evening Sous Chef at Ouita Michel’s Holly Hill Inn. Now, she teaches students and members of the community how to cook with local ingredients while understanding the importance of food. 

440 Hilltop Ave. | 859.218.4987 |

Dan Wu | Atomic Ramen

Dan Wu’s culinary career really took off when he participated on MasterChef season 5. “The Culinary Evangelist” began as a radio program on WRFL before eventually relaunching in 2016 as a podcast hosted by Wu. In each episode, he talks to local movers and shakers in the local food community. A Kickstarter campaign helped launch Atomic Ramen, Wu’s eatery in The Barn at The Summit.

The Summit at Fritz Farm | 859.523.0903 |

Mark Wombles | distilled, Heirloom and mezzo

When he bought the space that would become his first restaurant, Wombles set out to use fresh, local ingredients to create Kentucky dishes with a global sensibility. That idea propelled Heirloom in Midway to local acclaim and resulted in Wombles becoming Chef, Owner and Operator of Mezzo and Distilled. He continues to make use of seasonal ingredients while creating dishes that are simultaneously comforting and elevated.

Distilled: 120 W 2nd St, Lexington | Heirloom: 125 E Main St, Midway | Mezzo: 131 E Main St, Midway

Stella Parks | BRAVETART

Parks is the only chef on this list without a restaurant in town because she wants to make your home the next go-to spot for sweet treats. Her James Beard award-winning cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, is meticulously researched with decadent recipes that invite everyone to make world class pastries and desserts. Though she currently works as the “resident pastry wizard” for Serious Eats, her previous career highlights include working with Chef Ouita Michel at Wallace Station and Holly Hill Inn.