We are excited to announce this year’s Mansion Chef Rick Tramonto (photo by Ron Manville).  You’ve probably heard of Chef Tramonto because he’s one of the culinary world’s most respected chefs. You may not have heard of the Mansion because not many people get to see it. It’s the most luxurious place at the Kentucky Derby. So luxurious that one of the world’s greatest chefs does the cooking. 

Chef Tramonto was executive chef and founding partner at Chicago’s world-renowned four-star fine-dining restaurant Tru.  Long before that worked at the legendary Tavern on the Green in New York’s Central Park.  There is a little bit of a connection between Tavern on the Green and the Kentucky Derby besides both being American icons. Frederick Law Olmstead designed Central Park. He also designed Louisville’s Cherokee Park and Iroquois Park – and Iroquois Park is in the same neighborhood as Churchill Downs.  So Chef Tramonto cooking at the Derby seems meant to be.

Chef Tromonto’s culinary path led him through New York, Chicago, London, New Orleans and Mississippi where he worked and led some of the country’s most respected restaurants. Along the way he picked up multiple four star ratings, a Michelin Red “M”, Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in America and James Beard Best new Chef in the Midwest. 

Luckily, you don’t have to have seats in the Mansion to experience Chef Tromonto’s food.  He has shared this DELICIOUS recipe Lobster Chopped Salad from the Mansion menu that you can make it at home for your Derby party guests.

Lobster Chopped Salad

Yield: 24, 3-4 oz servings


2 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped into ½” squares

2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into ½” squares

1cup Mixed Color Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters

4 oz Lobster meat, cooked (OR 4 oz Jumbo Lump Crab and 4 pcs 16/20 Cooked Cocktail Shrimp for budget purposes)

¼ c chopped scallions

¼ c celery, diced ¼” dice

¼ c cooked sweet corn kernels

2 each Hard-Boiled Eggs, chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped Tarragon

1 Tablespoon chopped Parsley

½ cup seedless cucumber, ½” dice

½ cup sliced hearts of palm

1 each avocado, ½” dice

¾ c Red wine Vinaigrette

½ c Gribiche Sauce

lemon juice

Gribiche Sauce

3 eggs, hard-boiled

1 egg yolk (raw)

½ Tbsp Dijon mustard

1/8 cup cornichon liquid

½ cup Blended oil

1 tsp minced shallots

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped cornichons (or sour gherkins)

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

2 T Red wine Vinegar

¼ Cup EVOO


To make seafood chopped salad

  1. Cut lobster and Shrimp into large dice. Mix with herbs, crab, hearts of palm, cucumber, and avocado.

  2. Add gribiche and lemon juice.

  3. In a separate bowl, gently mix all other ingredients together.

  4. Dress with red wine vinaigrette.

  5. Place lettuce mixture in small bowl.

  6. Place seafood mixture on top of lettuce.

To make gribiche sauce

  1. Separate hard-boiled eggs

  2. In food processor, blend hard-boiled eggs, egg yolk and mustard.

  3. Slowly add oil to create a mayonnaise.

  4. Thin with cornichon liquid (or sour gherkins)

  5. Fold in shallots, herbs, cornichons and egg whites.

  6. Season and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

To make red wine vinaigrette:

  1. Mix mustard and vinegar.
  2. Whisk in oil
  3. Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

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