Q ‘N’ A with Artisan Kitchen of Paducah, KY

The 2023 Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala and Fundraiser will bring together thought leaders, policymakers, philanthropists and others to celebrate the winners, all of whom have deep roots in West Tennessee. Our event will feature entertainment from a variety of musicians from the region and a served dinner prepared by award-winning chefs David Jones and Karla Lawrence of Artisan Kitchen of Paducah.

We’ve connected with Executive Chef David Jones of Artisan Kitchen to get a feel for his restaurant style before our Gala and Fundraiser in March.

Q: What would you say is your most popular menu item?

Our most popular Sandwich is, by far, the Three Little Pigs.  It consists of roasted pork loin, ham, spiced bacon and apple-apricot chutney.  It’s served on our homemade hoagie.  It’s hard to say what our most popular dessert is.  Our French Vanilla Butternut cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting is very popular, along with our Black Velvet cake that is made with extra dark cocoa, and has a dark chocolate buttercream frosting.

Q: Artisan Kitchen has four major aspects to its business. Tell us a little about them.

Artisan Kitchen has four major aspects to its business.

First is the café which offers a creative assortment of sandwiches, salads and creative specials.

Second is the corporate and private catering ranging from the simple and casual to the most formal of events and weddings.

Third is desserts, wedding cakes, and specialty designer cakes.

And fourth is the made from scratch, home meal replacement offerings.

Q: Some of your Google Reviews compare you and Karla’s patience and general know-how of techniques and equipment to that of the well-known show “Chopped.” What do you think about this comparison?

Karla and I definitely work very well together.  She is by far the more knowledgeable in regards to the technical aspects of cooking and baking.  She has an incredible sense of taste, and can really build a flavor profile of a dish from the ground up.

While I love to cook, and have garnered a great deal of knowledge over my career, I am more logistically and customer service oriented.  Together we make a great team.  As for the comparison to the chefs of “Chopped”, we definitely have the competitive spirit and energy.

Q: It seems like your business is quite relationally run– meaning you build relationships with your staff as well as the guests that come and go. How did this practice begin for you, as a business owner?

Part of it came from watching my Father interact with customers at his orchard.  He took great pride in his work, and loved to share and get to know the people who came to the orchard. It was very much a social experience.

Additionally, my first job in food service was at a bed and breakfast and restaurant. I learned a lot about not just serving, but also getting to know our customers like guests and old friends.

From a staff perspective, each of us have very specific responsibilities for certain areas of production, and this leads to everyone taking a real sense of pride in their work, and, as well, builds a very strong interdependence among us.


This year’s 2023 Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Award winners are:

  • Her Excellency Amy L. Bondurant, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
  • Dr. Keith Carver, chancellor for the University of Tennessee at Martin
  • James Ross, president & CEO of West Tennessee Healthcare
  • The Honorable John S. Tanner, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives

The gala and fundraiser will be held on Sat., March 4, 2023, with cocktails beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the awards dinner at 7:00 p.m. The award ceremony will be emceed by Keli McAlister, popular event host and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation public information officer. Keli previously spent two-decades as a television news journalist working in Jackson, Oklahoma City, and Seattle, Washington.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Ruby or Diamond table, please contact Mary Nita Bondurant at 731-885-5455.

A silent and live auction along with opportunities to contribute to the Kirkland Scholarship Fund will take place during the evening. Thanks to the Kirkland Scholarship, students from all K-12 schools with 50% of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunches qualify for scholarships that pay for 100% of the ticket price to visit Discovery Park.

Get your tickets here.