By Chris Aldridge, Kentucky Proud Connection
If you love to eat, particularly locally produced Kentucky Proud food, circle Saturday, Oct. 27 on your calendar.
The fourth annual Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show, featuring Food Network celebrity chef Tyler Florence, will run from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EDT at the Lexington Convention Center and Rupp Arena.
"The Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show is the biggest event of the year for Kentucky food lovers," Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. "To have one of the world's most famous chefs and fresh, healthy, delicious Kentucky Proud products all under one roof is something well worth experiencing."
Florence will make two cooking presentations on stage in Rupp Arena at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. At 1:30 p.m., he will sign one of his cookbooks in the Joseph-Beth Booksellers area for one hour.
In more than 15 years as a chef on Food Network, Florence has starred in "How to Boil Water," "Food 911," "The Great Truck Race," and his signature program, "Tyler's Ultimate."
Alisha Morris, program coordinator of domestic trade shows for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, is hoping a well-known TV chef will boost attendance, which she said has numbered around 5,000 the past two years.
"Tyler Florence has a huge name," Morris said. "Reserved seating for the first show has sold out."
Commissioner Comer is scheduled to accompany Florence on stage during the first show at 11 a.m., Morris said.
Morris said the date of the food show was moved back because last year's show on Oct. 8 conflicted with other popular events – the opening weekend of fall horse racing at Keeneland and the Bourbon Chase 200-mile relay race across central Kentucky.
"Moving the show to later in October has been a positive move thus far due to the fact we won't be competing with so many other community activities," said Sheila Kenny, marketing director for the host Lexington Center.
The food show offers cooking demonstrations, culinary seminars, cooking tips, and presentations from local and regional chefs. National and regional authors will sign their cookbooks at the show.
One of the most popular areas is The Marketplace, where attendees can sample and buy food products from more than 100 exhibitors. Kentucky Proud producers will have booths, as will specialty food companies, restaurants, caterers, and distributors and sellers of kitchen accessories and appliances.
At the Kentucky wine pavilion, attendees may sample, speak with Kentucky vintners, and buy a glass or bottle of wine to take home.
The event will kick off at 9 a.m., when the first 300 paid attendees will be treated to a free Kentucky Proud breakfast that will include local food.
"The breakfast will be prepared by Sullivan University [culinary students] and the ingredients provided by numerous Kentucky Proud members that offer fresh, locally grown food available to us seasonally," food show producer Theresa Lloyd said.
At the breakfast, four volunteers will be randomly selected by Sullivan staff to participate as amateur chefs paired with a pro in the ProAm Cookoff competition later that day.
New to the show this year will be a "Quick Tips" Booth, which will feature a new demonstration every half hour. Topics include making biscuits, cutting up a chicken, concocting after-school snacks and quick appetizers, and baking the perfect apple pie.
"This new feature gives attendees another option in addition to the seminars," Kenny said. "People can stop by and watch a variety of demonstrations for five minutes or stay for the entire 30-minute duration."
A new Traditional Foodcraft Area outside along Main Street will demonstrate how old-time Kentucky foods are made. "Guests can learn how sorghum is processed, watch locally grown apples being pressed by an old-fashioned cider press, and learn the art of making apple butter with locally grown apples," Morris said.
Another new feature is Restaurant Row, which will offer small-plate offerings of entrees from local eateries. Morris said she thinks it "will be huge this year."
"Local restaurants will cook with local foods," she said. "You can buy smaller plates of food, rather than regular-sized plates at the restaurant."
The smaller portions, as well as lower prices, will enable attendees to sample the fare from several different restaurants.
"While there are many, many products for food show patrons to sample and buy, we receive comments every year that people spend all day at the show taking in seminars, presentations, and shopping, and come away hungry," Lloyd said. "This year, we decided to remedy that situation by offering an opportunity for area restaurants to promote their cuisine and give patrons a chance to eat something a little more substantial."
"The addition of the 'Quick Tips,' Restaurant Row, and the Traditional Foodcraft Area should also create some extra interest, which hopefully will translate into more people through the door," Kenny said.
Tickets are $40 for a reserved seat on the floor near the stage at one of Florence's shows and $15 for general admission. Attendees can save $2 off the general admission price by printing a coupon at www.incrediblefoodshow.com/tickets.php. Tickets include admission to all other events.
The show's website, www.incrediblefoodshow.com, has complete information and times of all the seminars and cooking presentations.