What’s ooey, gooey, chocolatey, and nutty all in one? None other than Kentucky’s original Derby-Pie®! Race to get a piece today!
The Kentucky Derby is an internationally-renown horse race that takes place in Louisville. This year, the event will take place on May 6 for the 143rd running of the Derby. The Kentucky Derby features a number of festivities that take place that weekend. Among the famous event traditions surrounding the Derby is the Royal Court. The Court is a group of six women that are selected to preside over numerous Derby events. Celebrations and events are both a part of the Kentucky Derby tradition. Over the years, many different traditions have developed around the Kentucky Derby. One of the most famous of these is the Derby-Pie®. The Foodies visited Kern’s Kitchen, where the Derby delicacy is prepared, baked, and shipped all of the country.
Many people may not know that Derby-Pie® is a trademark name that was born more than a half century ago of the Melrose Inn, in Prospect, Ky. George Kern, manager of the restaurant, developed the Derby-Pie® recipe with the help of his parents, Walter and Leaudra. They spent many hours trying to find the unique secret blend of chocolate and nut that make up this classic dessert. The Melrose Inn served hungry travelers for more than 50 years before closing in 2000. But, the blend remains the same, still a secret, to this day. The family, unsure what to name the pie, wrote out on slips of paper and tossed them into a hat… Derby-Pie® won and the rest was history!
The Kern grandchildren now take the same pride in preparing Derby-Pie® products today that their grandparents did more than five decades ago. Alan Rupp is the current President of Kern’s Kitchen. The grandson of Walter and Leaudra Kern, Alan was the primary reason they settled in Kentucky. Walter and Leaudra had intended to move to Florida after having their fill of Pennsylvania winters and stopped temporarily in Louisville to visit and help out with baby Alan. The area worked its magic—and then Derby-Pie® came along. The Kerns stayed. Consequently, Alan grew up with the smell of pie in his nose and hints of chocolate in his veins. In 1973, he started working in the family business learning how to properly sort walnuts, crack eggs, and pour without spilling. Alan is always generous with a smile and a handshake. His son, Jon Rupp, also works for the family business as the Sales Manager.
At Kern’s Kitchen, all of the magic of creating the Derby-Pie® filling is done behind the veil of a mysterious curtain. You can count on one hand the number of people who know the secret recipe. The company uses the name in the form “DERBY-PIE®” in official literature and advertisements. Kern’s Kitchen diligently guards the trademark and has filed more than 25 lawsuits to protect it over the years. The makers of similar pies have had to use different names such as “Pegasus Pie,” a reference to the Pegasus Parade at the Kentucky Derby Festival and May Day Pie, in reference to the First Saturday in May, the day of the Kentucky Derby.
You can find Derby-Pie® products at many fine restaurants and specialty stores in the Louisville area, or you can have it delivered to your door. Local restaurants such as Bistro 301, Captains Quarters Riverside Grille, and Dish on Market, offer it on their menu. Each restaurant typically finds their own distinct way of presenting the classic dessert. Whether it be served as a warm, gooey treat with coffee or presented with a chef’s signature flair, Derby-Pie® is a sweet ending to your meal. Just remember-if you’ve never eaten Kern’s Kitchen chocolate-nut pie, you’ve never eaten Derby-Pie®!
However, it just wouldn’t be fair to not mention all of the other delicious and classic Derby desserts. Along with Derby-Pie®, there are a couple other traditional treats that people like to serve up for Derby time. The Red Velvet Buttercream Rose Cake is a favorite for the Run of the Roses, and Chess pie is an old Southern classic that has withstood the test of time. There’s even such a thing now as Mint Julep Bars, which is a famous Derby cocktail transformed into a decadent dessert. Derby-Pie® is undoubtedly the most famous and most popular, but the honorable mentions are worth a try as well.
The Foodies were treated to taste tests of the Derby-Pie® fresh from the oven, and it was enough to get us all into the Derby spirit.