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The 2022 Preakness Race Ramps Up Its Celebrity Chef Appeal

High-brow seats enjoy access to wagyu, berbere-cured salmon, and other elaborate eats from Top Chef stars

A cocktail sitting on a track
The Black-Eyed Susan goes back five decades as the signature cocktail of the Preakness.

The 147th running of the Preakness is set for Saturday, May 21, with way more than serious equine talent on tap at the Pimlico track.

This year, Baltimore’s famous thoroughbred horse race invites Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons and Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson to personally cook for its big-ticketed guests on both Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day and Saturday’s premiere Preakness Stakes. The star-studded culinary lineup also includes Saon Brice of Baltimore’s BLK Swan and Mario Moise of Miami’s Bar ONE.

A new Preakness LIVE Culinary, Art & Music Festival on Friday, May 20 is a celeb-filled extravaganza (presumably to attract younger fans), with demos from these star chefs at culinary showcases on the main stage as well as a concert headlined by Grammy-winning female rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

2022 NBCUniversal Upfront
Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons feed Preakness fans in top-tier sections this year.
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Chef Marcus Samuelsson Collaborates with Monogram Luxury Appliance Brand for Kentucky Derby 148
Marcus Samuelsson will join Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons during the Preakness race weekend in Baltimore, serving up pricey meals and culinary demos.
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Monogram

Menus by Colicchio, Samuelsson, and Simmons for the two-day event include both made-to-order action stations at the VIP Finish Line Suites of the race, as well as buffet service items, which can be found at the Turfside Terrace and Home Stretch Suites on the race course, located along the inside rail of the turf course.

The baller new Finish Line Suites offer home stretch views and private attendants.

The items from the celebrity chefs are only available as part of certain top-tier ticket packages. A prime seat in the Turfside Terrace, for instance, costs $324 on Friday and soars to $756 on Saturday.

On Friday, Crafted Hospitality founder Colicchio will serve pastrami duck breast with a cherry salad, as well as a buffet-style short rib for more communal-style eating. Samuelsson, host of Eater’s ‘On the Rise’ video series, will whip up fried chicken with hot honey, mac, and greens at the Finish Line Suites as a nod to the South. His take on shrimp and grits will appear at the Turfside Terrace and Home Stretch Suites. Chef and cookbook author Simmons is the only one to go in a seafood direction, serving sea scallops with peas, asparagus, mint gremolata, and creamy polenta at her action station; and an orecchiette with Swiss chard, lemon and smoky chicken sausage at the buffet.

The rest of the masses with general admission tickets ($60) can find an assortment of Maryland-made eats in an area dubbed “Restaurant Row.” Options include Detroit-style pies (Underground Pizza Co.); cheesecakes (Codetta Bakeshop); island eats (Blue Caribbean Bar & Lounge); seaside snacks (Boardwalk Fries); vegan ice cream (Cajou Creamery); seafood (Fishnet and Jimmy’s Famous Seafood); halal wraps (Shareef’s Grill) and more.

The Black-Eyed Susan is the longtime official cocktail of the Preakness.
Preakness / 1ST

For the main event on Saturday, Colicchio turns up the heat with a wagyu with spicy onion and pepper salad, as well as a buffet-style porchetta to keep energy levels high throughout the race. Samuelsson, on the other hand, has a berbere-cured salmon with corn puree, shaved fennel, and honey mustard vinaigrette on his action station menu, in addition to a farro risotto with steamed seafood, carrot, and peas for the buffet. Simmons will be dishing up lettuce cups filled with tea-marinated duck breast with Asian herb salad, and at the buffet, a cheesy chicken and mushroom pasta pie with broccoli rabe for some freshness.

Diners can also knock back lots of Black-Eyed Susan cocktails — the iconic racing drink that shares a name with the marquis Friday race. The storied beverage traces its roots back nearly five decades, first served at the 1973 running of the Preakness when the catering was done by Harry M. Stevens Co. Allegedly, the original cocktail was intended to have a faint yellow color, achieved by using rum, vodka, and pineapple juice.

The alcohol content later came to include whiskey, and then later bourbon, and then later whiskey again. All this to say that the identity of the Black-Eyed Susan changes about as frequently as the winner of the Preakness race.

This year, Preakness goers will enjoy the following recipe: one-ounce pours of Bulleit Bourbon, Ketel One Vodka, and Peach Schnapps Liqueur and two-ounce pours of fresh orange juice and sour mix. The concoction is shaken over ice, strained into a glass, filled with crushed ice, and topped with a garnish of an orange slice and a cherry. That much, at least, has withstood the test of recent time.

The 2022 Triple Crown series kicked off May 7 with the second-biggest upset in the history of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Its 80-1 winner Rich Strike skips the Preakness to rest up for the Belmont Stakes in June.

Live coverage of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course starts at 4 p.m. on NBC.

— Adele Chapin and Tierney Plumb contributed to this report