He's won plenty of accolades lately, but chef Joe Castro has been turning out award-winning food for more than a decade at The English Room at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. The most recent honors: an AAA Four Diamond award for The English Room (its 11th in a row); recognition as "Best Local Chef" by Louisville Magazine; and acknowledgment by RH columnist John Mariani that Castro's place is "perhaps the best restaurant in the city." A Louisville native and a graduate of Transylvania University in nearby Lexington, Castro has been featured on Good Morning America, the Food Network, PBS and on the Discovery Channel's "Great Chefs of the South." He also hosts a weekly TV show on the ABC affiliate in Louisville: "Get Back in the Kitchen with Chef Joe."
Your pooch really loves the camera.
This is Bessie, a six-month old lab. We have another lab, but Bessie's the baby of the family now.
And let's meet these kids before they head off for school
Eleanor is 11 and she's already smarter than her dad. Max is nine and he's everything that goes along with the name Max. We also have a five-year-old daughter, Lidia.
We hope you get some food into these two before they leave.
We will. Breakfast is big here.
What's usually on the menu?
During the week, it's just cereal, or breakfast in a cup— that's chopped bread, egg, and a little bacon. You just stir it up.
And on the weekend?
After church on Sundays, we'll have country ham or scrapple.
This ham sure looks like the real deal.
It's Father's brand, a state fair winner. They age it about 18 months to two years.
By the way, what exactly is scrapple?
It's the secondary parts of pork ground and mixed with cornmeal, then cooked into mush. We freeze it and break it out like sausage on Sundays.
Sounds...interesting. How's it taste?
It's good. We fry it up in a skillet and put an egg on top. Just don't read the ingredients.
Can you put Sriracha hot sauce on it?
Sure. That's like the ultimate condiment in our house. We squirt it on everything.
Even the kids use it?
All the time. I'm of Filipino descent; you have ketchup, we have Sriracha.
So who cooks for your brood?
Both my wife and I do. For my part, I'll make several items like roast chicken or country pork ribs on my day off, then bag and freeze them for use during the week.
Sounds like quite a system.
I use a vacuum packaging machine I bought off the Internet. It's tricky to use. You have to follow the directions closely.
Do you eat often as a family?
We use the cooking and bagging method so there's a 6 p.m meal for the kids every night. It's important for the family that we gather around to eat.
Nice humidor. Does your wife let you smoke those things in the house?
I have to go outside. I only smoke one or two a year.
That's not very many. Why so few?
These are unbelievable cigars. If you light one of these, you want to smoke the whole thing. It takes two hours.
That's a big commitment for a busy guy.
It is. That's why I wind up giving most of them away.