Restaurateur and A&S Alumna Ouita Michel Releases First Cookbook

By Danielle Donham and University Press of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 28, 2021) — Kentucky restaurateur and University of Kentucky alumna Ouita Michel has released her first cookbook, “Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places,” stuffed with recipes celebrating the Bluegrass, just in time for the Kentucky Derby.

Witten by Michel, Sara Gibbs and Genie Graf with a foreword by Silas House, the collection features  recipes from the cuisine that Michel is known for. For 20 years, diners have satisfied their cravings for Michel's sustainable, farm-to-table cuisine at her restaurants. 

At each of her many restaurants — from Wallace Station to Holly Hill Inn — diners can enjoy such traditional Southern staples as buttermilk biscuits, country ham and po'boy sandwiches, or opt for variations on international favorites and American classics. 

“Just a Few Miles South,” published by the University Press of Kentucky, features recipes that patrons have come to know and love, including the Bluegrass Benedict breakfast sandwich, Ouita's Sardou panini, Wallace Station's creamy chicken and mushroom soup and Honeywood's hoecake burger. 

Some dishes offer creative twists on classics, like the inside out Hot Brown, the Wallace Cubano or the Bourbon banh mi. Throughout, the chefs share the traditions and stories behind the recipes. 

While at UK, Michel majored in political science in the College of Arts and Sciences, participated in the honors program (now the Lewis Honors College) and was a member of the first class of the Gaines Center for the Humanities Fellowship program. She was also a member of the debate team (housed in the College of Communication and Information), and became the second woman to win a national debate championship in 1986.

Michel is a six-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee, including nominations for Outstanding Restaurateur and Best Chef Southeast. Michel and her restaurants are regularly featured in local and national media. She lives in Midway, Kentucky.

Sara Gibbs is a chef as well as a recipe writer and editor. She lives in Central Florida. Genie Graf is the special projects director at the Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants. She is a graduate of the UK College of Communication and Information and lives in Midway, Kentucky.

The University Press of Kentucky is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that includes all of the state universities, six private colleges and two historical societies. The press’s editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at the University of Kentucky, which provides financial support toward operating and publishing expenses.​

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.


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