It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since Food & Dining reported on one of the most unique food events to hit Louisville: the first annual Lamb Jam at 21C Museum. Aside from offering oh-so-savory lamb bites and canapes, the event drew about 150 people to watch the demonstrations on using the whole lamb from nose to tail. This year, Freedom Run Farm returns to 21C with BaaBaaQ and Bourbon on April 7 from 1 to 3 p.m., which will offer even more savory bites to the audience, who will judge the lamb barbecue competition between chefs from Nashville, Louisville, Indianapolis, Cinncinatti, and Lexington. All proceeds from the $25 ticket support the Lee Initiative.

“Last year, we really celebrated whole lamb butchery and a walk around the entire lamb, and breaking it down, seaming out each muscle,” said Proof on Main Executive Chef Mike Wajda who will host the competition. “This year, we’re focused on barbecue and reaching out to chefs in the region who cook with lamb and have it on their menu.

He went on to say that he will again offer a presentation on whole lamb butchery (with a seamless approach) in a separate room while  Jeff Fisher of Kingsley’s Meats and Catering will offer a presentation using a traditional butcher’s approach. Acclaimed Lexington Chef Ouita Michel will present a demon on preparing lamb fries and the culinary heritage they have in the Lexington region. 

Freedom Run Farm is owned by Shepherdess Valerie Samutin, who has become a passionate voice for Kentucky Lamb.  She says, “Kentucky has a chance go regain its reputation as having some of the best lamb in the world. The point of BaaBaaQ and bourbon is to showcase the versatility of lamb and to revive the culinary heritage of lamb barbecue in the Commonwealth. It’s like Kentucky on a bun!”

Curious foodies, farmers, and chefs alike will enjoy this year’s event, which begins with sampling Bluegrass ribs cooked on Pit Barrel Cookers outside the Proof on Main entrance by Chef Serge Katz (Flavaville Food truck). Guests will then proceed through the restaurant to the atrium of 21C where they can access the cash bar and the participating chefs will begin offering samples. Then, they can attend the demonstrations. 

The competing chefs will be cooking with Pit and Barrel cookers and are:

Louisville Team: Chef Kevin Ashworth, 610 Magnolia.

Lexington Team: Chef Bob Perry, Chef in Residence, UK College of Agriculture; and Chef Wyatt Sarbacker.

Nashville Team: Chef Hrant Arakelian, Lyra.

Indianapolis: Chef Alan Sternberg, Common House.

Cincinnati: Chef Mitch Arens, Coppin’s Restaurant at Hotel Covington.

Photography: Chef Wajda and Chef Michel demonstrating how to butcher and use an entire lamb.