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  • Writer's pictureTamara Schneider

Talk to the Chef

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

In conjunction with our You Tube video series called "The Twelve Forgotten Foods of Christmas", we sat down with one of Lexington's most prominent chefs to get his take on holiday foods and to get some tips for the home chef. Chef Mark Richardson is a Pikeville native who has traveled the world, honing his culinary craft in cities like Paris, San Francisco, New York, Boston and Scottsdale. After working for the prestigious Four Seasons and Carlyle Hotel, he returned to Lexington where for the past three years he has been executive chef at Dudley's on Short, which in 2017 was awarded "One of the South's Best Restaurants" by Southern Living Magazine.


TAM: Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

CHEF: No. I always knew I loved food; I loved - you know, my mom and grandmothers and things would cook. I’d always be in there nosing around, interested, but the real love and the wanting to cook came a little later in my life, in my early 20’s.

LEIGH: So did you have good cooks in the family?

CHEF: Yes, my mom, my grandmothers were both good cooks, all good cooks.

TAM: Anybody from eastern Kentucky, I think it’s just a prerequisite.

CHEF: I think it’s in your blood.

On Lexington's Culinary Scene

TAM: Kentucky, and Lexington in particular, has a great culinary scene.

CHEF: Absolutely.

TAM: Why do you think that is?

CHEF: Again, I think, you know, cooking is in your blood if you live in Kentucky, from eastern Kentucky to western Kentucky and everywhere in between. I think, you know, food is – and especially in Kentucky, it’s more than food. It’s about entertaining, it’s about family, it’s about, you know, the whole, you know, getting around the table and just having a great time. What I wanted to do – things I wanted to do moving here was show them what does go on in the big cities, you know, bring that food from New York and Chicago and San Francisco and bring it here.

TAM: That’s awesome. And so do you think that Kentuckians are more traditional in their food or are they accepting of these new trends?

CHEF: Both. I think, you know, you have those that love the old classic kind of foods, and you have those that are adventurous and want to try new foods. And what we found here is, you know, even the people that love the classic stuff, they keep coming back and they’re trying new stuff, too. So we’re – we’re getting – we’re hitting all the – all the buttons on there.


CHEF: And from my cooks to my significant other they’ll say, taste this, what does it need? It needs – usually it’s one of two things, salt or some kind of acid to kind of balance it.

But I think the most - biggest mistake some people make at home is they take on too much and try to do too much at one time.


CHEF: In the restaurant, I kind of keep it more fun. You know, again, when people come here I want them to feel, you know, like it’s a – not a show, but I want them to be entertained. And then, again, it’s about making those memories, about – you know, some of these people I’ll never know, I’ll never see, but have them come and – and word get back to me they had a great time and a great meal and they had such a fantastic, you know, memory that they’re creating at our restaurant, and that – that’s amazing.


LEIGH: Now cooking, I think, is an artistry, so how are you inspired?

CHEF: For me, the wheels are always turning, whether it’s – I wake up at two in the morning and go 'I’ve got to go with caviar', I get a craving for something or – or I just think. It’s always constantly – I could be walking into work and I can get a smell of a wood fire oven or something or just a fireplace, and I’m like, 'Oh, my god, I’ve got to smoke something', you know. It’s – it’s everything. It’s all around you, and it’s stuff that you wouldn’t typically think about food, like smelling a fireplace. It’s something that, you know, that for me it just triggers things and – and the wheels are always moving, always turning.


LEIGH: And so, what will you be doing to celebrate the holidays this year on Christmas?

CHEF: Having prime rib and lots of wine.

TAM: Yes!

LEIGH: Sounds delicious.

CHEF: And in Kentucky, maybe a bourbon.

We enjoyed our time with Chef Mark Richardson amidst the beautiful surroundings of Dudley's. To find out his favorite fast food joints, the one ingredient he can't stand, and whether or not he is like Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen, watch the entire interview on our You Tube channel, KY Taste Buds.

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