Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Derby Breakfast Food Prep is Tribute to Teamwork
Note to editors: The Governor’s Derby Breakfast on May 6 at the Capitol in Frankfort is free and open to the public. Complete details on the celebration are available at http://governor.ky.gov/derbycelebration/
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Jim Stinnett, now the chef at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park, remembers the first time he was part of the team that prepared the annual Governor’s Derby Breakfast. It was around 1976.
“I was green as a gourd,” he recalled with a chuckle. He was a newly hired cook’s helper. It must have seemed like mass confusion as he and dozens of other Kentucky Department of Parks food services staff prepared to feed guests at the annual event.
As a public event, the Governor’s Derby Breakfast dates from 1972. In the early years, visitors numbered in the hundreds to a few thousands. By the time Stinnett became involved, perhaps four thousand people showed up on the Capitol grounds to kick off their Derby Day with a free meal.
Today, as many as 15,000 people walk the buffet line to help themselves to country ham, sausage, biscuits, scrambled eggs, cheese grits, and the like. After going through the buffet line, they find seats at brightly decorated tables in a large tent that holds up to 1,200 people.
Behind the scenes, a team of parks food services employees is in constant motion, cooking the food at two Frankfort cafeterias, transporting it to the serving tent and setting it up on the buffet line.
It has gone smoothly over the years, Stinnett says. Stinnett concentrates on the food preparation aspect of the event. “When you’re feeding up to 15,000 people, you can imagine the volume of food, and it can’t be prepared in five minutes. I help see to it that the food is hot, tasty and ready to go.”
“Jim has really stepped up and taken charge this year,” said Jessica Rush, administrative specialist, Kentucky Department of Parks. “I talk with him on a daily basis. He is an expert when it comes to Derby preparations.”
“We’ve never had a big problem,” Stinnett said. “Over the years, we’ve gotten more organized to the point that it easier for us.” The Kentucky Department of Parks has a number of employees throughout the park system who have regularly worked the annual event. They know their roles. “It’s a big team effort,” Stinnett said.
When the last diner is served late in the morning, the food service staff can feel good about what they’ve accomplished. “It’s one of the most rewarding things in the world, to have successfully served all those people,” Stinnett said. “It just makes you feel super.”
The Governor’s Derby Breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on May 6.
Derby Breakfast parking will be available at the CHR Complex, 275 E. Main Street. A free bus shuttle service will operate between CHR, the Kentucky History Center and the Capitol. Hours for the shuttle are 6:30 a.m. to noon. Handicapped parking will be available in the parking lot just west of the Capitol. For more information about the celebration, visit http://governor.ky.gov/derbycelebration