Humans of Lexington | Jason Ritchey

Historic Boone Tavern Executive Chef Jason Ritchey

How would you describe your restaurant?

Our restaurant, Historic Boone Tavern at Berea College, is a Southern Cuisine focused, fine dining restaurant. We were opened in 1909 when the Berea College First Lady, Nellie Frost, asked the college to build a place to host visitors to the college and travelers making their way along the Dixie Highway. Before I-75 was completed, Boone Tavern was located on the eastern route of the Dixie Highway which allowed continuous travel from Detroit to Miami.

What do you love about your restaurant?

Boone Tavern has a lot of history. The connection Berea College has to Appalachia and the rest of Kentucky gives me inspiration to research and play around with ideas that may be lost to time if they are not preserved and curated to present to a new generation of Kentucky diners.

What do you love most about the local restaurant industry?

We all know and support each other, Central Kentucky has a very tight knit restaurant family. While there is a healthy bit of competition and rivalry, we are all here to support and inspire each other first. I’m amazed and not only how talented the local chefs are, but also how kind, generous, and supportive they are.

How would you describe Lexington’s food scene?

Eclectic, Precocious, Exciting

Do you have a morning ritual, if so what does it look like.

Pretty boring. Wake up, shower, make coffee, drive Old Richmond Rd. and I-75 from Lexington to Berea, plan out my day during my drive.

What is your favorite cocktail?

Gold Rush

What is your favorite dish from your childhood?

Blackberry Jam Cake

What is your favorite dish on the menu and when cooking at home?

At work: Fried Catfish, At home: Chicken Tikka Masala

What is your favorite veggie?

Asparagus

How do you stay inspired?

Working with new ingredients, reading cookbooks and internet articles, eating out

If you could cook for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

My great grandmother. She was the beginning of my love for food and cooking. She passed before I became a chef. I’d cook anything she wanted.