New chef to lead Churchill Downs kitchens - News, Weather & Sports

New chef to lead Churchill Downs kitchens

Chef David Danielson Chef David Danielson
Chef James Wilfong Chef James Wilfong

By Shannon Cogan - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On Friday it's the start of the September meet at Churchill Downs. It's the first time in the track's 139 year history that they'll have three racing meets a year. But that's not the only change, there's also a difference you might be able to taste. There's a new cook in the kitchen at Churchill Downs.

Chef David Danielson was named the new executive chef, replacing Chef JoJo Doyle who moved to California. Chef Dave, as he's called, will oversee all the food from the concessions to the mansion area – where tickets cost $7,000 on Derby Day. The father of two moved to Louisville from Chicago, seeking a quieter life.

"So much of the pressure is off," Chef Dave said. "It's a gorgeous city, gorgeous town."

Chef Dave started at Churchill Downs in 2011 as the Executive Sous Chef.  He's cooked for the Olympics in Beijing, was Executive Chef at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, and trained in the cooking capital of the world - France.

"Not a lot have that small restaurant mentality and know how to transition that to a large amount of people," Chef Dave said.

He's planning a lot of Southern dishes with a twist, with lots of products from local farms.

Those who work with Chef Dave in the kitchen say even when things get hot, Chef Dave keeps his cool. his Executive Sous Chef James Wilfong said "like when you were younger, and you get slapped, goes away quicker.  Dave's more of the ‘I'm disappointed in you guys,' so it stings a bit longer."

Chef Dave said for the Derby every single item will be different. And no matter how well you do at the track, it's a safe bet the food will leave a lasting impression.

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