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A Shabbat Derby Party


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Jewish life is rife with traditions which shape so much of our culture. I often find inspiration in these traditions and weave them into meals for friends and family. On occasion, inspiration comes from unexpected places, as is the case with my Kentucky Derby Shabbat lunch- now a long-standing tradition in my family.

charred asparagus

Charred Asparagus

At the Kentucky Derby race, there are many customs that play a large role in the Derby atmosphere. Onlookers drink Mint Juleps from frosty silver cups and eat Burgoo, a thick, cholent-like stew of beef, chicken and vegetables. Derby-goers dress to the nines: Women wear fashionable dresses accessorized with large, elaborate hats as the men wear seersucker suits and bowties. At my party, I ask my guests to come dressed for the occasion, which gets very exciting (and lots of looks at Shul)!  The Derby is frequently referred to as “The Run for the Roses,” so the centerpiece is always a lush bouquet of stunning red roses.

The actual Kentucky Derby race only lasts about 2 minutes. For me the greatest part of the race is the meal, which-thankfully- lasts much longer…

Below is my Kentucky Derby Shabbat Menu, even if you just have Mint Juleps  you can start a new tradition of your own.  I have linked to many of my recipes as well as some from others on this site.


Tomato Salad


I love to see a bountiful table filled with delicious foods and vivid colors, it goes back to my belief that we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths. Try to ensure that your menu has green, red and yellow hues by serving brightly colored dishes along with the traditional meat, don’t miss my favorites, Charred Asparagus and Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Kentucky Derby Menu

Mint Juleps
Iced Sweet Tea
Tea Sandwiches
Deviled Eggs
Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Aioli
Iceberg Wedge Salad
Derby Braised Ribs
Jalapeno Corn bread
Tomato Salad
Charred Asparagus
Strawberry Shortcake
Bread Pudding with Chocolate Bourbon Sauce



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About Leora Kulak


Leora Kulak received a Grande Diplome from the French Culinary Institute where she was classically trained as a chef. She has worked in some of the finest kitchens in New York City, including Oceana and Jean-Georges’ Spice Market. Leora currently works for Food & Wine Magazine where she helps bring the best to wine and food lovers everywhere. When not jet-setting or cooking, Leora is the best mother in the world to her two daughters…who can be picky eaters.




6 Responses to A Shabbat Derby Party

  1. avatar says: Jessica

    Will you be giving the recipe for the “Bread Pudding with Chocolate Bourbon Sauce” above?

  2. I honestly can’t decide the recipe I like the most. They all sound sooooo good! You had me at mint julep.

  3. You had me at Mint Julep. I can’t pick my fav, they all sound so good!

  4. I’m going to have to find out how I can put that chocolate bourbon sauce on EVERYTHING!

  5. The two vegetable dishes are beautiful and after a cold, damp and dark winter like this past one, they are the inspiration for warm weather cooking. Inspiring. Re Bread Pudding: there’s almost no dessert that’s better.

  6. Your meal sounds amazing! I love events that revolve around food.

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