Category Archives: Profiles

Profile: Seafood Lady

[Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Food & Dining Magazine]

Nichelle Thurston never set out to become the Seafood Lady. In fact, she was close to graduating from Ivy Tech with a nursing degree when it all started. In 2015, Thurston prepared a seafood feast for her husband and three children. Even then she had a habit of cooking for 30 when she only needed food for five. Her family was so used to it that they stopped using plates, preferring to eat straight from the serving dishes. Continue reading Profile: Seafood Lady

Profile: The Hub — Doing a lot of good things well in one place

Louisville is a city of neighborhoods with distinct characters and residential charm. And many, like Clifton, Butchertown, Germantown and Portland, are experiencing renaissances as a younger generation chooses walkable urban neighborhoods with restaurants, services and retail outlets over commuting to outlying suburbs.

This new urbanism draws people with a modern sensibility of innovation and creativity, and they are transforming the sometimes old into something decidedly new. The Hub on Frankfort Avenue is a great example of this contemporary tide flowing back in and invigorating the cityscape. Continue reading Profile: The Hub — Doing a lot of good things well in one place

Profile: Pho Ba Luu

Saigon Memories

Pho Ba Luu owners Jessica Mach and Stewart Davis bring Saigon street food to NuLu with a little touch of motherly love
Banh mi sandwich with house-made pâté and house-baked French baguette.
Banh mi sandwich with house-made pâté and house-baked French baguette.

Saigon and Louisville are 9,000 miles apart, but Jessica Mach has found a way to merge the two cities. In July, she and partner Stewart Davis opened Pho Ba Luu at 1019 E. Main St., on the edge of the Nulu and Butchertown neighborhoods. Pho Ba Luu’s menu is built around banh mi sandwiches and pho, a combination of broth, rice noodles (“bánh phï”), herbs and meat. Mach refers to this as “Vietnamese comfort food,” and being around it every day makes her feel Louisville is a little closer to her homeland. Continue reading Profile: Pho Ba Luu

River House Restaurant and Raw Bar — A dream deferred

We live in a microwave world where most people expect to get what they want immediately. But Chef John Varanese is proof that a little delayed gratification can be just as sweet. Varanese fell in love 15 years ago, not with a person but with a location. It took 15 years for him to get what he wanted, but in March the River House Restaurant and Raw Bar opened on the very spot that Varanese had coveted. That story, from love at first sight to grand opening, had enough twists and turns to fill a romance novel. Continue reading River House Restaurant and Raw Bar — A dream deferred

Wiltshire at the Speed — talents combine for artful eating

For three years a massive project has been going on at the Speed Art Museum, a transformation of the staid 1927 Neo-classical landmark into a new space that will be a center of education, exploration and appreciation of creativity in all its forms. Along with a modern addition that invites the community in, it is also an institution alive with ideas of reaching out.

Included in the impressive new edifice at 2035 S. Third Street is a modern café, Wiltshire at the Speed, combining the creative vision of owner Susan Hershberg and Executive Chef Coby Ming to complement the museum’s mission to both invite and serve. Continue reading Wiltshire at the Speed — talents combine for artful eating

Butchertown Grocery — A kitchen of his own

Three friends open the Butchertown Grocery, a culinary and entertainment venue where the community can get its collective groove on.

Quantum mechanics established long ago that one person could not exist in two places at the same time, but Chef Bobby Benjamin still had to learn this lesson the hard way. Benjamin was the executive chef at La Coop until the downtown restaurant closed in 2014. He then found himself working at Union Common in Nashville while his wife, Hannah, and their baby daughter, Copeland Pearl, stayed in Louisville. When Benjamin was in one city he often found himself thinking about what was going on in the other one. This dilemma was solved at the end of 2015 when Benjamin opened the Butchertown Grocery with attorney Jon Salomon and musician Patrick Hallahan, the drummer for My Morning Jacket. Continue reading Butchertown Grocery — A kitchen of his own


Louisville is quickly becoming famous as a world-class food city. Its evolution in this regard over the past 25 years has been remarkable. From a few solitary outposts, the area has developed an abundance of ethnic, international, fusion and chef-inspired venues where diners can satisfy almost any culinary curiosity. Continue reading PERSONALITY, STYLE AND CREATIVITY SHINE AT LE MOO

Vinnie & the Vets

[Originally Published in the Winter 2015 issue of Food & Dining Magazine.]

Many who remember Casa Grisanti say restaurant service in Louisville was never better. And those who really know their restaurants can point to places such as Vincenzo’s, Corbett’s, the English Grill and others as standard bearers of that service tradition. Not ironically, a handful of employees at those three restaurants were veterans of Casa Grisanti, most notable among them, Vincenzo Gabrielle. He was hired as the restaurant’s maître d’ in 1975 and later became a partner with Michael Grisanti. Continue reading Vinnie & the Vets

Trail Blazer

By creating the Urban Bourbon Trail, the CVB’s Stacey Yates helped put Bourbon tourism on the map.

[Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Food & Dining Magazine]

These days, Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail, a network of 34 establishments that promote and celebrate Bourbon by offering at least 50 brands, is so popular that “I’m waiting for Gattiland to call and say, ‘We have 50 Bourbons – can we be we on the Trail?’” Continue reading Trail Blazer

Crescent Hill Craft House

It remains a golden age for craft beer in America, but while artisanal brewing continues to grow and prosper on Kentucky soil, another satisfying libation retains the bulk of bragging rights in the Commonwealth.

It’s Bourbon, and Bourbon is ascendant.

With considerable justification, Kentuckians view their native spirit not merely as intoxicating, but as representative of a local art form belonging uniquely to them. Strictly speaking, Bourbon is a process and not an appellation, and can be produced anywhere in America. However, don’t expect a Kentuckian to accept this fact without an argument. Continue reading Crescent Hill Craft House