Winning Recipes: Trotting Through the Kentucky Derby Kitchen

Escoffier is running for the roses with five delicious derby-themed recipes. Chef Instructor Luke Shaffer has compiled a time-tested classic menu from the starting gate to the finish line.

The essential guide cover

Take the Culinary Career Survey

We’ve compiled a checklist of all of the essential questions into one handy tool: career options, culinary interest surveys, educational opportunities, and more.

Campus of Interest*
Program of Interest*

Clicking the "Get the Survey Now" button constitutes your express request, and your express written consent, to be contacted by and to receive automated or pre-recorded call, texts, messages and/or emails from via phone, text, and/or emails by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts at the number(s)/email you provided, regarding furthering your education and enrolling. You understand that these calls, texts, messages and/or emails may be generated using an automated or pre-recorded technology. You are not required to agree to receive automated or pre-recorded calls, texts, messages or emails as a condition of enrolling at Escoffier. You can unsubscribe at any time or request removal of street address, phone number, email address via Escoffier website.

April 24, 2024 5 min read

Whether you’re a die-hard horse racing fan, or just love watching the pageantry and grace of the thoroughbreds on the first weekend of May, The Kentucky Derby isn’t all horsing around.  It’s getting down to business, whether that involves the race, choosing the perfect fascinator, or eating festive derby fare.

Can’t make it to Churchill Downs this year, no worries. We’re running for the roses with five delicious derby-themed recipes that are sure to help you celebrate in style. Escoffier Chef Instructor Luke Shaffer has compiled a time-tested classic menu from the starting gate to the finish line, including:

  • Pimento Cheese
  • Hot Brown Sandwich
  • Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie
  • Mint Julep
  • Old Fashioned

…And, straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Whether your horse wins, places, or shows, these dishes are going to win every time!”
Luke Shaffer, Escoffier Chef Instructor
Luke Shaffer
Escoffier Online Chef Instructor

Classic Pimento Cheese

YIELDS: 1 pintPimento cheese dip in a bowl with bread, crackers, carrots and celery.


  • 8 oz, divided  Sharp cheddar cheese, block, shredded (do not use pre-shredded cheese)
  • ½ c  Cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c  divided, Mayonnaise, Duke’s brand preferred
  • 2 oz Pickled pimentos, drained, diced
  • 2 tsp  Hot sauce, Crystal or Louisiana brand preferred
  • 2 tsp  Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp  Cajun seasoning
  • As needed  Kosher salt


  1. In a food processor, combine half of the shredded cheese, cream cheese, mayo, half of the pimentos, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cajun seasoning and a pinch of salt. Pulse until combined, scraping sides as needed.
  2. Add the second portion of cheese and pimentos, and pulse 3-4 times, until combined into the mixture, but not smooth.
  3. Remove to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week (if it lasts that long).
  4. Serve as the filling for a sandwich, a condiment for a sandwich, or as a dip for crackers or crudités.

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich

YIELDS: 4 servings

IngredientsTwo open-faced sandwiches on a wooden table, each with a toasted baguette slice topped with melted cheese, tomato, crispy bacon, and chives.

  • 1 qt  Hot Brown Sauce
  • 12 ea  White bread, toasted, crusts removed
  • 1 ½ lbs  Roasted turkey, thick sliced
  • 2 oz  Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 12 ea  Roma tomato, wedges
  • 12 ea  Thick cut bacon, cooked crispy

Hot Brown Sauce

  • ½ c  All-purpose flour
  • ½ c  Unsalted butter
  • 1 qt  Whole milk
  • 6 oz  Heavy cream
  • 6 oz  Romano cheese, grated
  • As needed  Kosher salt
  • As needed  Black pepper, ground

Hot Brown Sauce Directions

  1. Heat a heavy-bottom sauce pot over medium heat.
  2. Melt butter.
  3. Whisk in flour until smooth to form a roux – it should be the consistency of wet sand.
  4. Cook for about 3 minutes, but do not allow to brown.
  5. Whisk in milk and cook until thickened – stir regularly to prevent scorching.
  6. Once thickened, remove from heat, whisk in heavy cream and Romano cheese until smooth.
  7. Sauce may be used immediately for Hot Brown Sandwich, or cooled, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Hot Brown Sandwich Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Cut toast into triangles and distribute between six oven-proof dishes (2 slices each).
  3. Top each slice with 4 ounces of turkey. Then 4 ounces of sauce.
  4. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and golden brown (about 15 minutes).
  5. Top each sandwich with bacon, tomato, and Parmesan. Return to oven until cheese melts.
  6. Serve hot.

Kentucky Derby Chocolat Walnut Pie

YIELDS: 1 pieKentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie on a plate with whip cream dollop.


  • ½ c  All-purpose flour
  • 1 c  Brown sugar
  • 2 ea  Eggs, beaten
  • ½ c  Unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tbsp  Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 c  Walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ¼ c  Semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp  Vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp  Kosher salt
  • 1 ea  Pie crust


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the flour and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the eggs and melted and cooled butter, and mix to combine.
  4. Stir in the bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt.
  5. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. Set the pie on a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.
  7. Serve as is, or topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Mint Julep

YIELDS: 1 servingMint Julep cocktail in silver cup with mint


  • 8 ea  Fresh mint leaves, removed from stem
  • ¼ oz  Simple syrup
  • 2 oz  Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ea  Fresh mint sprig for garnish
  • As needed  Crushed ice


  1. In a julep cup (or rocks glass) muddle mint leaves and simple syrup.
  2. Add bourbon and fill the glass tightly with crushed ice.
  3. Stir until the cup frosts on the outside.
  4. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Old Fashioned

YIELDS: 1 servingOld Fashioned cocktail in crystal rocks glass with ice and orange peel.


  • 1 Bar Spoon  Simply Syrup
  • 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 oz  Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


  1. Add all ingredients into a mixing glass, in order
  2. Place ice in rocks glass and in mixing glass
  3. Stir mixing glass until chilled.
  4. Strain into rocks glass.
  5. Garnish with orange peel.


Subscribe to the King of Chefs Blog

Subscribe to the King of Chefs Blog

Get the King of Chefs email newsletter delivered to your inbox weekly. You'll get everything you need to know about culinary & pastry careers, food entrepreneurship, financing your culinary education, and more.