Cookbook author and chef Abra Berens

Cookbook author and chef Abra Berens

The Holly Hill Inn welcomes cookbook author and chef Abra Berens on Sept. 27 to a special dinner event and signing.

Holly Hill chef de cuisine Tyler McNabb will prepare a menu featuring several recipes from Berens’ new cookbook, Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables. 

Berens, like her host, Holly Hill Inn owner Ouita Michel, believes in eating seasonal foods, locally sourced. Berens started her career cooking at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich., then trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, farmed for eight years, headed a Local Foods cafe in Chicago and is now a creating special dinners from local produce as a chef at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Mich.

“I'm so thrilled to be coming to Holly Hill Inn for this dinner because over the last three years, I've been lucky enough to meet and get to know Ouita,” Berens said. “She was part of my inspiration to move back to Michigan, seeing how a food business (or multiple in her case) can really shape a community.”

Berens and Michel met in 2016 at the James Beard Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, a collaborative for chefs who work to improve the world’s food systems. Berens was one of the first chefs Michel invited to the inaugural FEAST dinner in 2017, a fund raiser for FoodChain in Lexington.

“Abra Berens is an inspiration — she has extensive farming experience and can grow anything,” Michel said. “This background is part of what makes her culinary vision and skill so unique and delicious.

“Abra has given back to the Central Kentucky community over and over again by donating her time to FEAST and helping to turn the FoodChain teaching and processing kitchen into a reality. Tyler and I are so excited and honored to host her at Holly Hill Inn.”

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a front-porch reception of hors d’oeuvres, special cocktail and wine, and book signing with Berens. Dinner seating begins at 6 p.m. The multicourse dinner, with vegetarian options, is $65. Award-winning wine list and full bar with premium spirits and bourbons available. For reservations, call (859) 846-4732 or go to

Dinner with Abra Berens, Sept. 27

Assiette de Morsures
Celery Root Bagna Cauda
Cauliflower with smoked whitefish mayo, lemon and radicchio
Oven-roasted Potato Salad with local egg, herbs and bread crumbs
Shaved Summer Squash with Parmesan, herbs and olive oil
Piperade of local peppers, onions and garlic

Caramelized Onion Galette with Broadbent country ham, Reed Valley Orchard apples and hazelnut
Smoky Eggplant Pasta with walnut relish, Mozzarella and basil

Salad of candied tomato, fresh fig, Roquefort, pine nuts and arugula
Vichyssoise served warm with champagne-poached oysters, herbed butter and oyster crackers

Roast Millbrook Farm Venison Loin with huckleberry jus, bourbon-brown butter butternut squash puree and New Zealand spinach
Smoked King Salmon, braised Jerusalem artichokes, crème fraîche, dill and salmon roe
Roasted Pumpkin glazed with pomegranate molasses then stuffed with warm field pea hummus, oven-roasted tomatoes, farmer’s cheese, crispy oven-roasted kale and dukkah

Brown Butter, Pear and Custard Tart with tawny port Chantilly cream
Dacquoise of dark chocolate, white chocolate, coffee and hazelnut

Ruffage Cover.jpg