Department of Parks
State Parks’ Chef Mike Vaughn Wins State Fair Cast-Iron Chef Competition
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Mike Vaughn, a chef for the Kentucky State Parks in Frankfort, won his Cast-Iron Chef Competition at the Kentucky State Fair.
Vaughn, who also won the event last year, cooked a Top Loin Pork Chop Stuffed with Granny Smith Apples and Smoked Bacon Topped with a Boursin Cheese Crust. The winning entry also featured Bourbon Caramelized Shallots with Hand Breaded Parmesan Fried Green Tomatoes.
Vaughn faced another excellent chef, Anthony Lusiak of Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge in Louisville. The judges were three randomly chosen visitors to the fair on Aug. 26. Points were awarded for taste, presentation and creativity.
“The competition gets bigger every year,” said Vaughn, who is the chef and manager at the parks’ cafeteria at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Building. “It’s one of the more popular events of the fair.”
Vaughn, who is from Bowling Green and now lives in Frankfort, has been cooking for 13 years, the last three for the Department of Parks. He said he has been fortunate to get to cook with other excellent chefs, including his grandmother and Eddie Hunt, the chef for the Department of Parks at the Capitol Annex.
Vaughn, Hunt and state park cook Neil Serafini also took part in a cooking demonstration at the fair to highlight the parks’ use of locally grown products and the Kentucky Proud program, which promotes Kentucky-produced items. The dishes included Kentucky-grown herbs.
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 52 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. Each year, Kentucky parks draw 7 million visitors and contribute $317 million to the economy. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit our Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov