Rising Star Artisan Jay Denham of The Curehouse - Biography

Louisville, KY

January 2014

The son of beef cattle ranchers, Jay Denham has an ingrained passion for the pastoral life. But for a time he abandoned the fields to pursue a career in cooking. The Maysville, Kentucky, native worked his way up the kitchen ranks, eventually taking on the executive chef role at Park Place and Browning’s in Louisville. When the recession hit in 2008, both restaurants closed, leaving Denham jobless—and with the opportunity of a lifetime.

Denham had started curing programs at both the restaurants and, with nothing to lose, traveled to Italy to refine his skills and fuel a growing passion for charcuterie. Among other stages, he studied under Massimo Spigaroli, a renowned master of prosciutto di Parma.

Back in the States—and back in the business of farming—Denham became part of a trio, including Nick Heckett and Chuck Talbott, that would create a new standard for dry-cured ham in the United States. Together they raise Ossabaw hogs in the mast-rich Appalachian foothills, giving the animals the singular terroir of the American Ham Belt. From their Woodlands Pork, Denham produces artisan meats and dry-cured hams with modern climate-controlled curing and a distinctive American heritage at his exemplary The Curehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. For his work there, Denham was awarded a 2014 StarChefs.com Rising Stars Artisan Award.