Derby-Pie®, as it has come to be known,was born over a half century ago as the specialty pastry of the Melrose Inn, at Prospect, Kentucky. George Kern, manager of the restaurant, developed the Derby-Pie® recipe with the help of his parents, Walter and Leaudra.
Many hours were spent trying to find the unique blend of flavors that make up this classic dessert. And that blend remains a secret to this very day. Oh, most folks recognize the real chocolate chips and walnut pieces-but no one has ever been able to duplicate our special filling and delicate crust.
There's only one Derby-Pie® chocolate nut pie
Once developed, a proper name had to be given. Because each family member had a favorite, the competing choices were written out on slips of paper and tossed into a hat. Derby-Pie® won out!
And what a winner! By 1968 Derby-Pie® had become so successful that the name was registered with the U.S. Patent Office and the Commonwealth of Kentucky (that's the reason for the ®!). Since then it has been baked and distributed solely by Kern's Kitchen, a small family commercial kitchen in Louisville, Kentucky.
What's in a name? Everything.
The Kern grandchildren take the same pride in preparing DERBY-PIE® products today that their grandparents did over five decades ago. Only the highest quality ingredients are used and each pie is carefully filled by hand.
Try the way Leaudra always served it-warm from the oven and topped with real whipped cream. You can find DERBY-PIE® products at many fine restaurants and specialty stores in the Louisville area or you can have it delivered to your door.
Just remember-if you've never eaten Kern's Kitchen chocolate-nut pie, you've never eaten DERBY-PIE®!
The grandson of Walter and Leaudra Kern, Alan was the primary reason they settled in Kentucky. Walter and Leaudra had intended to move to Florida after having their fill of Pennsylvania winters and stopped-temporarily-in Louisville to visit and help out with baby Alan. The area worked its magic—and then Derby-Pie® came along. The Kerns stayed. Consequently, Alan grew up with the smell of pie in his nose and hints of chocolate in his veins. In 1973 he started working in the family business learning how to properly sort walnuts, crack eggs, and pour without spilling.
Alan is always generous with a smile and a handshake. In fact, his business card is often attached to a 20 oz., shrink-wrapped box of Kentucky tradition. Alan knows that while the secret recipe is for keeping, the pie is for sharing.
Before becoming restaurant manager at the Melrose Inn, George scraped together a few dollars and travelled through Europe with a friend. When youth hostels proved too expensive, they slept in hotel Renault. Or Fiat. Or VW. Years later, George, Walter, and Leaudra would combine the rich, dense tortes of Europe with American flair and ingenuity creating the one and only Derby-Pie® chocolate nut pie!
The Melrose Inn served hungry travelers for over 50 years before closing in 2000. We miss her, but with every aroma from the Kern's Kitchen oven, fond memories return.
Before taking up a spoon in the service of the kitchen, Walter Kern served his country in World War I and even had the privilege to deliver a medical package to then-President Woodrow Wilson. Walter also loved to work with wood and was a master of the lathe. Consequently, there was never a shortage of fine, handcrafted lamps, pedestals, and marble-topped tables around the Kern household. Creativity finds a way.
As a loving mother of two, Leaudra had her hands full at home. She was a phenomenal cook who sold desserts to neighbors to help supplement the family income. Later she worked in Walter's tire business and while she left much of the heavy lifting to the boys, it's said that she could change a tire with the best of them. Leaudra enjoyed her slices of Derby-Pie® warm and with a dollop of whipped cream. When she was feeling especially frisky, she'd add a bit of Kentucky bourbon for a little extra kick. Yum!