October 24, 2014 | By: Laura Skillman
LEXINGTON, Ky., -

 The “Spicy Fat Cat,” a new smoked beef sausage developed by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, will make its Rupp Arena debut Oct. 27 during the UK men’s basketball team’s Blue-White scrimmage.

The Spicy Fat Cat is a skinless, 100-percent-beef smoked sausage infused with pepper jack cheese, said Gregg Rentfrow, meats specialist and director of the UKAg Butcher Shop.

Rentfrow said the idea for such a product began with Dave Maples, executive director of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association. Maples wanted a specialty beef sausage product that could be sold in the association’s food booths in Rupp Arena. In addition, they wanted to promote UK, the college and the butcher shop.

Maples said the idea came to him while touring the UK meats lab with his children during a 4-H event and was reinforced when meeting with officials at Rupp Arena who were looking for a new product. He was able to connect the two and is excited about the possibilities.

“My job is to promote the beef industry and beef education in Kentucky, and this is a good fit,” he said. “I hope it is a great success.”

Rentfrow and Maples worked with Rupp Arena officials to develop plans to sell the product during UK men’s basketball games. Currently, it will only be available during the games in the specialty concession stand located behind Section 34.

"We are excited about being able to work directly with the UKAg Butcher Shop in the development of new products for our patrons,” said Carl Hall, director of arena management for Rupp Arena. “This is a great opportunity to work with local suppliers and provide different food options to the more than 900,000 guests that come to Rupp Arena annually."

UK students will play an active role in the production of the Spicy Fat Cat, Rentfrow said. Proceeds will go to support student activities within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, including covering teaching and travel expenses related to UKAg judging teams. It will also be used to cover production and maintenance costs.

“We are delighted to embark on this new collaboration with Rupp, our valued Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association and the butcher shop to create a tasty treat that will help student programs and promote Kentucky products,” said Nancy Cox, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Rentfrow, butcher shop manager Ryan Chaplin and Chef Zalatan Prasovic tried various recipes before deciding the Spicy Fat Cat was the way to go. Explaining the product’s name, Rentfrow noted the “spicy” is provided by the cheese and the “fat” from its size – a quarter pound. The “cat” is a tribute to the UK mascot.

UK opened its butcher shop in the basement of the W.P. Garrigus Building in February 2013 to give the UK community and the general public more opportunities to eat locally produced food. Interest in local foods is gaining popularity across the country.

"This innovative project is an outstanding example of our college's growing leadership in building a vibrant food economy in Kentucky," said Scott Smith, former college dean and now director of the Food Connection at UK.

Contact: 

Gregg Rentfrow, 859-257-7550