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Ham gets special attention
at Chefs & Restaurateurs Conference

Not All Grits and Greens — All that Ham

Ham producer Nancy Newsom Mahaffey, Owner of Newsom’s Old Mill Store in Princeton, was among the food industry professionals selected to participate in the 2004 National Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Conference held Nov. 6-8 in Louisville, Ky. The conference was based at the historic Hilton Seelbach Hotel, where Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham is used on the menu by Chef Todd Richards.

Nancy joined Kathy Cary, Chef/Owner of Lilly’s/La Peche, and Sarah Fritschner, Food Editor of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., to present one of seven Master Classes.

Nancy, Kathy and Sarah combined their talents and expertise in the presentation “Not All Grits and Greens.”

The WCR billed the group as knowledgeable, professional and innovative.

The chefs and culinary students participating in the conference were invited to “Join these Kentucky professionals as they share their knowledge and ideas on local flavors and products – especially aged country ham."

Sarah talked about sustainable agriculture in the region, as farmers find alternatives to raising tobacco; and she concentrated on demonstrating local products and flavors from Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Nancy, known as “the Ham Lady” in Western Kentucky, spoke about the mark of an aged country ham, how to cure a ham and how to buy one, how to market the ham on your menu, and even how to fry a slice of good country ham so it won’t be tough.

Kathy, a three-time James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef, Southeast, shared her ideas and inspirations about new ways of presenting a variety of Newsom’s products: aged country ham, Newsom’s much-praised prosciutto ham (both crudo and cotto, uncooked and cooked), hickory smoked country bacon and sausage, ground country ham, and finally, Newsom’s smoky barbecue ham, or “Preacher Ham” as it’s called. It was evident that in this part of the country, it’s not all grits and greens.

“It was indeed an honor for me,” Nancy said, “to be invited and included among the speakers at this conference. I am very gratified that chefs across the nation are finding Newsom’s hams — country, prosciutto and our smoky barbecue — and including them in popular dishes on their menus.”

Nancy noted that the late Chef James Beard was the first national figure to find and spread the word about the Colonel’s ham.