Business Spotlight: Vote Kennedy’s burgoo Kentucky’s best

Russ Kennedy, left and David Snyder serve Kentucky-style Burgoo at Buffalo Trace Distillery on Oak’s Day last year. (State Journal file photo)

USA Today is looking for the best place in Kentucky to get burgoo, and we have one of those in the running right here in Frankfort featuring Russ Kennedy’s own concoction.

Kennedy’s burgoo is served from April through October at the Firehouse Sandwich Shop on the grounds of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Firehouse is operated for the distillery by Dan Liebman, owner of Staxx BBQ, Carson Place. Kennedy’s burgoo is also served at Staxx.

Burgoo lovers — particularly those who love Kennedy’s burgoo — will be able to vote online until noon Feb. 25. Voting instructions are elsewhere here.

“We were thrilled when officials at Buffalo Trace notified us that Russ’s burgoo was nominated for the title of Best Burgoo in Kentucky,” said Liebman, who’s also a former editor of The State Journal. “We certainly think it is deserving of that honor and we think anyone that has tasted it will agree.”

Kennedy knows the competition is going to be tough.

“I tell myself it’s like owning a Derby horse. Just being entered is an honor, and while it’s a thrill to be in the hunt, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win!”

“We started selling burgoo at the Firehouse a few years ago and the visitors to Buffalo Trace love it,” Liebman said. “Many of them have never heard of burgoo, but tourists always like trying a regional specialty. It is like ordering gumbo in New Orleans or clam chowder during a visit to Boston.”

Liebman also offers burgoo on his menu at Staxx during the winter months and, he says, it’s very popular.

“Also, Russ goes with us to the annual BBQ Fest in Lexington and he has sold out. He’s a great guy and he makes a great product.”

Kennedy and his burgoo were featured in the August edition of FRANK. magazine. Of burgoo, Kennedy said, “Burgoo is not a dish, it’s an event!”

“The history of burgoo captures my heart. There’s so much tradition that’s entwined with Kentucky history, I would hate to think of losing that.”

From 2002 until the “end of the season” in 2010, Kennedy and his wife, Susan, cooked barbecue for events, festivals, church picnics, wedding receptions — wherever they were called to and could go. Then it became too much.

“We started doing barbecue as a profit-making hobby,” he said. “The last week we were in business we did three events.” Some might see that as more than a hobby.

Then a few years ago, the couple got into burgoo, pronounced as BUR-goo by some and bur-GOO by others. It really makes no difference how one says it, the thick, hearty stew is a combination of several meats, vegetables and spices, each “burgoo chef” having created and perfected his or her own recipe.

Kennedy teamed up with Liebman and Staxx — and ultimately Firehouse — and now a vote for Firehouse in the USA Today contest is a vote for Kennedy’s burgoo.

“I need your vote(s),” an excited Kennedy said. “A vote for Firehouse is a vote for my burgoo. If you have already voted, vote again! Under the rules you can vote daily on your computer as well as on your smartphone … through Feb. 25.

“In it to win it!  Thanks. And tell a friend.”

To vote for Russ Kennedy’s burgoo at the Firehouse Sandwich Shop visit www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-burgoo-in-kentucky.

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