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Louisville mayor creates Bourbon and Food Work Group

Group includes bourbon distillers, chefs, tourism officials

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2013) — Standing behind the bar at Bourbons Bistro with hundreds of bottles of aged Kentucky bourbon behind him, Mayor Greg Fischer on Monday proclaimed that Louisville will become the world’s best culinary and spirits city — and he signed an executive order to put the city on that path.

Kentucky produces 95 percent of all the bourbon in the world and much of that production occurs in and around Jefferson County.
Kentucky produces 95 percent of all the bourbon in the world and much of that production occurs in and around Jefferson County.

“Louisville has a renowned food and bourbon culture — and we are about to take it to an even higher proof,” Fischer said as he created the Bourbon and Food Work Group.

The 34-member group — comprised of local chefs, bourbon distillers and tourism officials — has a bold mission, according to the executive order: “to develop a plan to promote Louisville as the best culinary and beverage city in the world, thereby attracting national and international travelers to enjoy our internationally-acclaimed food scene and to become a gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.”

The group will spend four months crafting a plan that the city, in partnership with private business and others, can implement. One component of that plan includes creating a downtown bourbon tourism center where people can catch buses to visit the state’s distilleries.

“What Napa Valley is to food and wine, I want Louisville to be to food and bourbon,” Fischer said.

Louisville is beginning to see leisure travelers come to the city specifically to eat at the local restaurants and to visit the distilleries, most of them within an hour’s drive of downtown and a growing number on Main Street. “With the right strategy and intentional approach, I believe we can grow this segment very rapidly over the coming years,” Fischer said. “That puts money in our economy and creates jobs for our citizens.”

Tourism is a $1.4 billion industry for Louisville and supports more than 22,000 jobs. The bourbon industry alone generates 4,200 jobs with $263 million in annual payroll in Jefferson County and employment has increased 10 percent in the last five years.

The co-chairs for the Bourbon and Food Work Group are Rick Robinson from Wild Turkey and Kathy Cary of Lily’s. The members are (grouped by their area of expertise):

Bourbon industry

· Eric Gregory, Kentucky Distillers Assoc.

· Rick Robinson, Wild Turkey

· Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark

· Larry Kass, Heaven Hill

· Chris Morris, Brown-Forman

· Marty Snyder, Distilled Spirits Epicenter

· Mike Veach, Filson Club/bourbon historian

Culinary/restaurant/food industry

· Stacy Roof, Kentucky Restaurant Association

· Bill Lynch, Louisville Originals

· Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia and Milkwood

· Kathy Cary, Lily’s

· Dean Corbett, Equus/Jack’s Lounge and Corbett’s: An American Place

· Vincenzo Gabriele, Vincenzo’s

· Karter Lewis, Hillbilly Tea

· Anthony Lamas, Seviche

· Susan Hershberg, Wiltshire Pantry

· Looi Peng, Asiatique

· Rhonda Kamar, Ramsi’s Café on the World

· Ivor Chodkowski, Harvest

· Philip Ruskin, Ruskin International

· Summer Auerbach, Rainbow Blossom


· Mike Howerton, Convention and Visitors Bureau

· Stacey Yates, Convention and Visitors Bureau

· Cleo Battle, Convention and Visitors Bureau

· Mike Mangeot, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet

· Amanda Storment, Kentucky State Fair Board

· Brad Walker, Louisville Hotel & Lodging Association

· JK McKnight, Forecastle Festival

Economic development

· James Reddish, Greater Louisville Inc.

· Rebecca Matheny, The Downtown Partnership

· Bill Samuels, The Downtown Partnership and Maker’s Mark

· Steve Campbell, investor and involved in local food movement

· Ceci Conway, IdeaFestival and consultant

· Stephen Reily, entrepreneur and local foods investor