Hermitage Farm in Goshen, Kentucky, has a rich history as a working farm as far back as the 1700s. Famed horseman Warner Jones established the farm’s thoroughbred nursery. The land is now preserved in perpetuity as an Agriculture Conservation Easement by current owners Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. Steve scored another win for the farm’s future when he discovered Alison Settle at her chef’s counter at Red Hog, an artisan butcher shop and restaurant in Louisville. Steve was scouting for an Executive Chef to run the kitchen for the new Barn8 Farm Restaurant & Bourbon Bar at Hermitage Farm.
Originally from Lexington, Alison Settle’s passion for cooking led her to pursue a degree from Sullivan University’s Culinary Arts Program. In addition to Red Hog, Alison’s chef pedigree includes stints at Seviche, Portage House, Holy Grale, Gralehaus, and Pizza Lupo. Perhaps most notably, Alison worked with James Beard Foundation and Southern Foodways Alliance member Chef Ouita Michel at Holly Hill Inn and Woodford Reserve.
The immediacy of Hermitage Farm’s farm-to-table operation at Barn8, with its greenhouse and horticulturist, is well-matched to Alison’s adventurous flair for traditionally-inspired Kentucky dishes made with fresh local ingredients. “We use as much as we can off our own property and source the rest from local farmers whenever possible.” Adding to the kitchen’s inventive spirit are Alison’s food memories as an au pair in Munich and Barn8’s Vietnamese/American Chef de Cuisine, a former member of the first Lee Initiative class.
Chef Settle takes pride in Barn8’s predominantly female management team. “I didn’t set out to hire all women. When we were hiring, the best people were women.” The restaurant also benefits from the sous chef’s experience touring music festivals with a food truck. And the pastry chefs have backgrounds in French pastry and production. Although you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose, Alison was kind enough to offer some menu recommendations.
Drunkard’s Soup, a Hungarian dish typically served on New Year’s Day, will warm you up with Barn8 Sauerkraut, Barn8 Smoked Paprika, and Broadbent Bacon. The Tori Karaage Lollipop puts a Japanese spin on fried chicken from Groce Family Farm with Barn8 Furikake, Lemon, and Douchi-Black Garlic Mayo. 3D Valley Farm Beef Tongue is a Reuben style Pastrami Tongue on Focaccia with Andre 3000 Island Dressing, Barn8 Sauerkraut, and Pickled Red Cabbage. Uni Carbonara brings the umami with Housemade Bucatini, Broadbent Bacon, Uni Butter, Parmesan, and Bottarga. End on a sweet note with Pumpkin Tiramisu: Lady Finger Biscuit, 200 Acres Cushaw Pumpkin Zabaglione, and Barn8 Spiced Coffee Liqueur.
Alison’s Barn8 kitchen produces all Hermitage Farm Pantry retail products in-house. Executive Bourbon Steward Adam Walpole oversees the Bourbon Bar’s inventive cocktail program, including an Old Fashioned made with shag hickory bark syrup. Although many of their special selections are difficult to source, the farm maintains vital relationships to keep vintage bottles and barrel selects in stock. Barn8 looks forward to hosting indoor dining events such as a twice-monthly dinner series and a ticketed, prix fixe 6-course Bourbon Barrel Select tasting menu. For more information, visit hermitagefarm.com and follow @barn8restaurant on Instagram