Eater Young Guns aims to identify the most promising up-and-comers in the restaurant and nightlife world. MilkWood's executive chef Kevin Ashworth and Andrew McCabe, Proof on Main's chef de cuisine, are Louisville's two representatives among the 50 Young Guns 2013 semi-finalists nationwide, selected from thousands of nominees. Earlier this month, Eater Louisville asked for testimonials about both chefs. Here excerpts from just some of the responses we received about Ashworth.
·"One of the best qualities Kevin possesses is his ability to be a leader. When we were in culinary school together he saw that I wanted to learn more than was being taught so he took me under his wing and taught me things that no teacher would have even cared to teach me. He was the guy that classmates would go to when they weren't necessarily sure of how to carry out a project or recipe. He is the stand-up leader who helped an older classmate with arthritis and twitching get through butchering proteins... His creative works of food magic are pretty inventive and sometimes different, but they're always top notch delicious...Kevin is also a compassionate person who helped me become a better, more open person?one who wasn't jaded?one who wasn't still living in the past's sufferings. Kevin was the one to help me overcome my fears and hesitations while working on the hot line?.even though he was burdened with bandaging me up when I sliced myself or wiping my tears away when our rude boss belittled me down to a worthless piece of meat. He was also the guy who befriended me, was true with me, and helped me overcome my deep loathing depression. He is a fricken stand-up guy!"
·"Kevin is an amazing, dedicated chef that is such a joy to work with. He also gives a mean high five. "
·"Kevin was more than a drinker or a student or posh pizza guy (when I first met him) he was quite a thinker...Kevin wasn't that kinda guy, he spoke romantically about food with conviction and a rare simplicity not often heard by young chefs. To him new or complicated techniques were not just toys but a new sort of arsenal for a cook looking to take an alternative route to an awe inspiring execution. I remember when Thomas Keller's book 'Under Pressure' came out we all had to have it and it literally hadn't even hit bookstores yet and somehow Kevin had it. I remember us both sitting at the kitchen table (as we were roommates at the time) and him explaining to me things neither one of us had even seen before but yet, he already knew how and why to do it...I was jealous of Kevin almost 4 or 5 years ago when he was working making considerably less and [was] dramatically happier than I was because he was doing 'his kind of food'. Every chef is either doing 'your food' or 'their food' and he was doing 'his food'...On my off time I would usually drink some beers go see a movie, but Kevin was always cooking. It never stopped for him. He didn't need a toque and a coat to cook like I did. I will never forget those days waking up to re'hydrate' after my night before my day off and the kitchen smells like butter. I ask a roommate whats he doing and then I see the cookbook 'Bouchon' out on the countertop and they said "i thinking he's baking something" and it's ten o clock in the morning and he's making brioche from scratch the hard way just for the hell of it. I will tell you I have not seen more of a malleable chef: one who can be made and changed to be better and better and still stay humble."
·"Kevin Ashworth is going to rock the culinary scene in Louisville!!!!! I had the pleasure of working with Kevin at the Summit restaurant at Cincinnati State. We had a great time working as a team to create imaginative dishes for our diners. I believe that Louisville is very fortunate to have such a passionate Chef presenting them with spectacular culinary creations!!!"
·"I hope this isn't too late, but this is something of note for Kevin's Young Guns profile, as well as a 'tip.' Kevin was recently named to Rathbuns' 'Watch List' and is being featured, along with 13 other 'up and coming chefs' at this weekend's Atlanta Food and Wine Festival."
[Photos: Whitney Harrod Morris]