Meet A Great And Modest Foodie

Jamie Estes.

Jamie Estes.

It was not all that long ago that Louisville was close to being a culinary wasteland. Cissy Gregg’s column in The Courier-Journal was the one and only go-to place for food ideas. Later Elaine Corn brought her wit, style and energy to food writing. And then there was the wonderful Sarah Fritschner who not only wrote but championed the local grown concept and brought attention to farmers’ markets in church parking lots.

Now think back some 40 years and not to put them down, but before there was a Fig Tree on Broadway at Third Street or Casa Grisanti on East Liberty putting a million watt spotlight on fine dining, Louisville looked to The Old House, Kunz’s, Hassenour’s, Bauer’s and Gruber’s for their fine dining pleasure. And they are all gone. Of course there were The Brown and Seelbach hotels along with a number of country clubs, but none of these choices were putting Louisville on the map in the way that Cincinnati’s Maisonette and Pigalle and Indianapolis’ St. Elmo Steakhouse were. Those were destinations and folks from Louisville left the state to go there for dining adventure.

WDRB 41’s Candyce Clifft interviewing Estes PR Sullivan University Clients Chefs Long & Castro

WDRB 41’s Candyce Clifft interviewing Estes PR Sullivan University Clients Chefs Long & Castro

Then something happened to change it all in the form of Kathy Carey and Michael and Don Grisanti. (I am sure there must have been others, but they don’t immediately pop into my mind.) Those are the names that many of us still give credit to for stimulating a heightened awareness and appreciation for food and service innovation when we chose to pleasure ourselves with food outside our own kitchens.

Maybe Louisville’s astounding leap into becoming a real hot bed of restaurant development and innovation would have happened anyhow, but good, subtle strategic planning certainly can make the outcome more predictable.

Everyone knows that running a restaurant and creating a Broadway show are two of the toughest businesses in which to score a sustained success. Those that do succeed often times have some “magic” working behind the scenes. Louisville was fortunate when Daniel May and Philip Cooke, moved their FSA group to Louisville. Of service to the food industry, FSA not only had national clients, but local ones as well. The local clients benefited from their professional promotional expertise and there began to be a growing sense of food and restaurant awareness and appreciation as a result.

Within the group was FSA Public Relations and it had a shining star in the form of Jamie B. Estes who worked there for nearly 10 years polishing her skills and handling such clients as Kinkead’s in Washington D.C., TRU in Chicago, Louisville’s Seelbach Hilton, Brown Forman’s Woodford Reserve, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the American Institute of Wine & Food and the Council of Independent Restaurateurs of America. Emeril Lagasse, Julia Child, Martin Yan and Jacques Pepin were some of the culinary stars for which she created and executed public
relations promotions.

Ghyslain Maurais instructing Suillivan University students.

Ghyslain Maurais instructing Suillivan University students.

Then in January 2004, she struck out on her own to form Estes Public Relations located in an impressive, three story red brick “pile” on Frankfort Avenue in the Clifton neighborhood. The location serves not only as the center for her ever-growing business and staff, but also as home for Jamie and her charming husband, Kevin, a Louisville native, whose remodeling skills helped to shape it for business purposes as well as making it a home for the couple and their canine “children.”

An Alabama native, Jamie is a University of Alabama graduate with a master’s in communications from the University of Kentucky. She has served at both Kentucky and the University of Louisville teaching organizational communications, public speaking and interviewing skills. A quiet, soft spoken person when you meet her, she has offices in Louisville, Chicago and Beaufort, S.C. The agency is described as providing marketing and public relations for those in the culinary, travel and lifestyle industries across the country. She has an entire team of cookbook publicists.

Keeping her Louisville clients in the public eye is really where we have benefited. They include the Bristol Bar & Grille, Brown Hotel, Distilled Spirits Epicenter, Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar, La Coop, Bistro aVins, Lilly’s, Seviche a latin Restaurant, Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies, The Summit and Woodford Reserve. Other clients include Honolulu Fish Company in Hawaii, Idaho Potato Commission, River Oaks in Memphis, and Carriage House in Chicago to name a few. She has handled more than 45 chef appearances including a number from Louisville at the James Beard House in New York.

Jamie is a founding board member and public relations chair of Bourbon Women, past president of the International Foodservice Editorial Council. She has served on the Junior League of Louisville Sustainer Advisory Board, and is a member of the Heuser Hearing Institute Board of Directors. She has also chaired positions with other community groups as the Kentucky Arts + Design Museum Bourbon Ball, Clifton Center, Dare to Care, March of Dimes, Younger Woman’s Club, and is a member of the board and marketing committee of the Clifton Center.

This quiet, effective powerhouse is a real Louisville asset and fun to know.


A Fillies Affair to Remember: Galloping with the Fillies, benefits the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation on April 19 at the Galt House. The foundation is a non-profit agency dedicated to providing assistance for many charities in our community.

Cocktails are at 7 p.m.; the Coronation of the Queen is at 8 with dinner at 8:30 and dancing until 12:30 a.m..

Chairman Barbara Hood has enlisted Pat Gray, Merilyn Coslow, Robbie Steder, Jo Graves, Trish Osborn, Beverly Pendleton, Bonnie Taylor, Mollie Smith, Suzanne Thompson and Becky Biesel along with Vicki Hillerich, Dianne Carli, Carroll DeHart, Nancy Rust, Kathy Henderson and a host of other Fillies to work on the ball.