Top Chef Kentucky Recap: Nashville, y'all!

Mrs. Tyler Thompsonover 2 years


(Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

After partying on Lake Cumberland last week, Top Chef: Kentucky hops on the Cumberland Parkway and takes I-65 South for a quick trip to Nashville. To the recap!

Quickfire Challenge

The chefs arrive at the Grand Old Opry, where they’re greeted by Padma in a denim jumpsuit and slicked back hair because NASHVILLE, Y’ALL. The Quickfire Challenge is actually pretty cool: make breakfast, lunch, or dinner for a mystery country music star based on their rider, aka preference sheet. The singer likes eggs, oatmeal, and red meat, and. Once the dishes are complete, Padma introduces the mystery star: Hunter Hayes. Kelsey immediately freaks out and says she’s been a fan of his since high school, which is odd because I think she’s actually older than him, but hey, at least there’s one country music fan in the house. Despite being super paranoid about people watching him eat, Hayes picks Eric’s oatmeal, Sara’s cauliflower, and Adrienne’s steak as his favorites. Ultimately, it’s Adrienne’s simple steak that wins, which is really impressive because she was so sick on the drive down that she made them pull the car over so she could puke. Adrienne gets an extra hour to cook in the Elimination Challenge, a pretty huge prize.

Elimination Challenge

It’s NASHVILLE, Y’ALL, so the music theme continues as the chefs are tasked with creating a dish inspired by a music memory. They’ll have two hours to prep and cook and an additional two hours the next day. They’ll serve the dishes at a restaurant downtown for a group of Nashville culinary elites, Kings of Leon lead singer Caleb Followill, his wife, model Lily Aldridge, and of course, the judges.

Here’s each chef’s song and corresponding dish:

Adrienne: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes; Fruits de mer

  • Adrienne’s seafood medley is an homage to her time in Maine

David: “Morning View” by Incubus; Pork and clams

  • David wants to make octopus based on his time in Portugal, but has to settle for clams since Whole Foods only has frozen octopus

Eddie: “Love You Madly” by Cake; Red snapper with puffed rice

  • This was Eddie’s wedding song and inspires him to make his wife’s favorite dish.

Kelsey: “Sunday Kind of Love” by Etta James; Chicken pot pie

  • If Kelsey’s husband had to choose a last meal, it would be a chicken pot pie, so she makes a deconstructed one in his honor.

Sara: “Jambalaya” by Hank Williams; Grouper gumbo

  • Kentucky girl Sara makes her dad’s favorite dish, gumbo, which she promised him she’d put on the menu of every restaurant she opens.

Eric: “Big Poppa” by The Notorious B.I.G.; Ribeye, eggs, cheese and concord jus

  • Eric creates a dish based on Biggie’s “t-bone steak, cheese eggs, and Welch’s grape” line to honor the fellow Brooklyn native.

Justin: “Purple Rain” by Prince; NY Strip with braised red cabbage and beets

  • A Milwaukee native, Justin chooses to honor Prince with an all-purple dish

Michelle: “Michelle” by the Beatles; Red snapper with corn

  • Michelle’s story is a tear-jerker. Her father committed suicide when she was a teenager and whenever she hears the Beatles, she’s reminded of childhood days in the garden with him and the smell of corn.

The guests include a who’s who of the Nashville foodie scene: Sean Brock (Husk), Jonathan Waxman (Adele’s), Tandy Wilson (City House), and the aforementioned Kings of Leon frontman and his model wife. Justin shoots himself in the foot by forgetting a dish and is disqualified. That’s a shame because his dish ends up being one of the judges’ favorites. Also in the top three are Sara’s gumbo and Michelle’s red snapper with corn. Not only does Michelle’s backstory bring the judges to tears, they adore her dish, with Sean Brock vowing to hire her after the show’s over. She gets the win, and if you weren’t rooting for her, you’re dead inside.

Meanwhile, Eddie, Kelsey, and David are the bottom three. Both Kelsey and David’s dishes were too salty, while Eddie’s puffed rice made his snapper dish seem like cereal. Ultimately, it’s David who goes home, which is fine by me because I kept confusing him with Eddie anyways.

My Old Kentucky/Nashville Home Takes

— It was neat to see Top Chef in my stomping grounds this week, although it took me a minute to realize where they were for the Elimination Challenge. So that’s who goes to the rotating restaurant atop the Sheraton.

— A Nashville episode and no hot chicken? Shame, Top Chef!

— I’m pretty sure we knew this already, but this episode confirmed that Kentucky girl Sara is a Kentucky fan:

Speaking of Sara…

Next week: HELLO RUPP ARENA! The episode we’ve all been waiting for. Based on the preview, Sara may have screwed herself over by using waffle mix instead of making it from scratch. Say it ain’t so, Sara!


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