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    In the 1980s Kathy Cary, the longtime chef-owner of Lilly’s Bistro in the Highlands, realized her restaurant’s proximity to a major UPS hub could benefit business. “It helped shape the kind of dishes I served,” Cary says. “I knew we could get Hawaiian or New Zealand fish fresh. Or, if fennel wasn’t in season in Louisville, I could order it from Seattle. That opened things up creatively. Your food was only limited by your imagination.”

    Worldport, UPS’ international hub, is a five-million-square-foot facility that sorts items arriving nightly on 150 planes from places as far away as Asia. Worldport is the reason your favorite NuLu restaurant can serve grouper that was swimming in the South Atlantic just hours before it hit the pan. “Everything comes through here, gets sorted out and put on another plane or ground transportation,” says UPS’ Stacy McIntosh. “With Worldport being in Louisville, we offer a lot of what they call ‘end of runway’ services here. A trailer can pull up at 1:30 in the morning and potentially have it delivered hours later.”

    In case of delays, perishable products (fresh seafood, steak, live animals) go into a 40-degree cooler that can hold about 500 packages. If that’s not enough space, UPS also has refrigerated trucks. “On Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, people are ordering perishable things like flowers, chocolate or even dinners. We are seeing some uptick on food items,” McIntosh says. “A lot of people are ordering steaks for Father’s Day, and everyone wants a King Cake around Mardi Gras.”

     “UPS was the great equalizer,” says Anoosh Shariat, the local food scene veteran who currently operates Anoosh Bistro on Brownsboro Road. “We could get herbs from the Caribbean or fresh fish from Hawaii. I was born in Iran, and it allowed foreign-born chefs like me to cook the food they remembered from their childhood.”

    Chris Hughes owns the Texas ranch Broken Arrow, which provides free-range venison, antelope and wild boar meat to several Louisville restaurants. Before UPS and FedEx, Hughes says, Broken Ranch shipped its products via Greyhound. “We would drop off coolers at the bus station, and someone from the restaurants would pick them up when they got to their city,” says Hughes, whose family has run the ranch for more than three decades. “We shipped as far as New York City, which took three or four days. When door-to-door shipping became the norm, it extended our reach and shortened our delivery times. Now we worry more about stock running out than getting the meat to our customers.”

    This article is courtesy of the August issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here.

    Article by Michael L. Jones.

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