WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Central Kentucky restauranteur who's used to bringing people together around the dinner table is trying a new way to unite people - through her storytelling. Ouita Michel is launching a video series, exploring food's role in Kentucky's culture and communities. Tonight, the first episode premiered in Lexington.
Holly Hill Inn is the first restaurant Ouita Michel started in Midway, back in 2001. In the last couple of decades, she's opened eight restaurants in Midway, Versailles, and Lexington.
"The series is about celebrating our food culture and helping people understand what the food culture of Kentucky really is," Michel said at the premiere Tuesday night.
The first episode of the series explores the history of the property and how Michel and her husband came to be restaurant owners here in Kentucky. The last couple of years have been a challenge and they are excited to see brighter days ahead for the whole community.
"It's been tough to open and close the restaurants a lot and deal with the different challenges that COVID-19 has presented to the hospitality industry as a whole, but I'm really proud of our community and how it's stepped up and supported all the restaurants and I'm grateful to have the support of the Lexington community," Michel said.
"I feel like we've come out stronger and better and more creative and I think it's important for us to celebrate those moments of triumph by telling stories. That's really what this film is all about."
The series, called "Up Home with Ouita Michel", will visit local farms and festivals across the state and explore the ways they connect to the communities around them. For her, food is what brings everyone together.
"Through it all, you just go step by step and you try to stay focused on what's really important in life, and that's your health, your happiness, and having your friends and family around you. I moved back to Kentucky to cook for my friends and family and to be part of a community and I've never regretted it for one second and I think that’s what’s gotten me through all of these tough times," Michel said.
The series officially launches on YouTube on Thursday.