Kentucky Proud

Terri and Steve Bass, hosts of the Kentucky to the World reception.

By Carla Sue Broecker

Les Dames Meet Again

A little more than three years ago, Jamie Estes – a nationally known public relations guru for the food and restaurant industry – along with a number of other friends and colleagues set out to organize a local chapter of an organization called Les Dames d’Escoffier International. The group is made up of women who have careers that focus on all aspects of food and hospitality. Their efforts were so successful in the Louisville region that the group has now expanded to become the Kentucky chapter for Les Dames, and it includes members representing the Kentucky spirits and distilling businesses.

For the most part, the group meets monthly for various occasions. The August meeting will be a dinner to celebrate the birthday of celebrated chef Julia Child. The December gathering will be to conduct a cookie bake sale in Louisville to help fund the organization’s scholarship program, which helps appropriate candidates in the study of culinary arts.

Margaret and Robin Wendler at the Kentucky to the World reception.

Earlier this week, the group gathered at Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Kentucky. It is the home and business of celebrated chef and restaurateur Ouita Michel and her farmer husband Chris. The meeting served as a mixer for members to introduce potential new members, exchange stories and enjoy the culinary delights of the inn.

Holly Hill Inn sits on spacious and well-treed farmland on the state road into Midway. The Antebellum estate sits back from the rural road in a bucolic setting. The “dames” settled in on the spacious veranda and caught up on what was going on and with whom.

Some interesting conversations took place about the industry expanding its base as Kentucky becomes better known for its culinary stars, the beautiful countryside and the gracious hospitality that goes along with it. And of course, there is the lure of our fabulous bourbons, the distillery tours and the most sophisticated country cooking south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Kentucky to the World founder Shelly Zegart.

The meeting was led by Judy Hollis, the current “head dame,” who was once a major executive for Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio. If you run into her, ask her to tell you a story about a snake and lettuce and prepare for a laugh. Some of the other members and potential members included Joyce Nethery, Marianne Eaves, Katie Payne, Stacy Duncan, Anne West Butler, Valerie Samutin and Susan Riegler.

Kentucky to the World

In 2014, a truly interesting local organization was launched. Called Kentucky to the World (KTW) and led by its president and founder Shelly Zegart, it has the simple and direct objective of enhancing Kentucky’s reputation along with its people and its assets. Recently, Terri Bass, one of the organization’s board members, along with her husband Steve hosted a get together of some of their friends to spread the word and enhance KTW membership. Terri and Steve are always such genial hosts and literally weathered through their reception during one of the heaviest rainstorms in the last month.

Literature about the organization describes the mission in easy to understand terms. They seek to identify extraordinary work people are accomplishing here and around the world that is rooted in their Kentucky experience. Then, they produce audience events and videos about their lives and successes. KET is a KTW community partner and is involved in distributing these stories via its Republic Bank Foundation Speaker Series.

Upcoming on July 10 is a presentation called “Life of an Olympic Champion,” featuring Louisvillian and gold medalist for swimming Mary T. Meagher. Joining her on the Brown Theatre stage will be Kelsi Worrell Dahlia, Louisville’s newest Olympian, who also won gold in swimming. These two are 30 years apart in age but both won for the butterfly stroke. They will be interviewed by WHAS11’s Whitney Harding and will discuss how they feel about life when their perceived greatest accomplishments may be behind them. Tickets are available through the Kentucky Center Box Office at 502.584.7777. For more information, visit kentuckytotheworld.org

Les Dames President Judy Hollis and Stacy Duncan at Holly Hill Inn.

Individuals highlighted in previous programs include Kentucky Nobel Laureate Philip Sharp, one of the world’s most honored scientists; Elizabeth Mayhew, a popular columnist and contributor to NBC’s Today Show; and Tracy Drain, flight systems engineer at NASA. VT

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