In a world where it seems many are losing the connection between America’s farmland and the food that appears on our plates, Alison Settle has been given a mission.
Settle is executive chef of Barn8, a 150-seat restaurant and event space in Goshen, Ky., on site at Hermitage Farm, a historic farm that is now a tourist destination to celebrate some of the state’s signature industries: agriculture, bourbon and horses.
Owners Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown — also entrepreneurs behind the 21c Museum Hotel brand based in Louisville — bought the property in 2003 and reportedly invested $15 million with the goal of agriculture preservation.
Settle, who cooked previously at the Red Hog Restaurant & Butcher Shop in Louisville, was hand-picked by Wilson to develop the food at Barn8 as a very literal farm-to-table concept — really more of a table-at-farm concept in the renovated barn— to showcase what is in season on the property or neighboring farms.
“It was a really, really special opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down. I mean, it’s sort of the Disney World of restaurants,” said Settle.
That challenge, unfortunately, began right as the pandemic shut down indoor dining in 2020. But Barn8 made it through the pandemic and has opened for a busy summer.
Settle said she works closely with the horticulture team to build the menu, but she declined to pin down her style of cooking beyond her focus on what’s local and in season.
“I’ve never wanted to be put in a box. I get bored really easily,” she said. “We want to be completely available to do any cuisine we want to do.”
Listen to Settle talk about her work at Barn8 and what the restaurant represents.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the name of Hermitage Farm.
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