By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Finally, a Top Chef Kentucky with some more Kentucky! This week, the chefs try their hand at an iconic Kentucky dish and celebrate the state’s bountiful produce and livestock. Well, some of them do, at least. To the recap!
Quickfire Challenge: Reimagine the Hot Brown
The hot brown is one of Kentucky’s most famous dishes, and after hearing about its history, the chefs are tasked with putting their own spin on it. Lena Waithe, an insanely talented actor, screenwriter, and producer, serves as guest judge, and if you haven’t seen the Thanksgiving episode of “Master of None” for which she won an Emmy, consider it your homework.
This Quickfire Challenge is a tough one—will the Cheftestants crack under the pressure? ??
— Bravo's Top Chef (@BravoTopChef) January 17, 2019
Justin and Kentucky girl Sara are the early favorites for the Quickfire Challenge since both serve hot browns in their restaurants. Unfortunately, Sara’s take on the dish, a Scotch Egg, doesn’t get on the plate in time and she’s disqualified, not the first time she’ll struggle in this episode. Of the other hot browns, Padma and Lena give low marks to Brian’s “Nashville Hot Turkey,” which was too dry, and Kelsey’s “Croque Madame Hot Brown,” which had a vinaigrette sauce instead of mornay and was therefore wayyyy too healthy to be considered a Hot Brown. Eddie and Adrienne’s hot browns draw praise from Padma and Lena, but it’s Justin’s “Kentucky Fried Breakfast Brown” that gets the win. As someone who isn’t a fan of hot browns (which I’m sure is because I’ve never tried the one you’ll recommend), even I will admit that it looks delicious:
Elimination Challenge: Carne, Carne, Carne!
The show finally shines a spotlight on Kentucky’s bountiful produce and livestock in this episode, featuring Kentucky Proud products, locally grown ingredients, and locally raised livestock, specifically, beef. Famous chef Nancy Silverton comes in to help Padma present the challenge, which is to prepare a cut of Foxhollow Farm beef assigned to them. All of the chefs are starstruck by Nancy, which I’m sure if totally justified, but I save my fangirling for Dario Cecchini, aka the Mad Butcher of Panzano, who will break down the beef into cuts for the chefs. My husband and I went to Dario’s butcher shop when we went to Italy a few years ago, so this is a huge treat for me. As I wrote on the site afterwards, Dario is a true character and a master of his craft, so good on Top Chef for bringing him in. (That reminds me, we need to use some of that delicious herb salt we bought.)
Anyways, the chefs draw knives to see which cut of meat they’ll be working with. They’ll have 10 minutes to choose local Kentucky ingredients from the pantry, 30 minutes and $100 to spend at Whole Foods, and two hours the next day to prepare a dish for a group of local Kentucky farmers, and, of course, the judges. Brian, who works at a butcher shop on the side, is particularly stoked for this challenge, which Top Chef has taught us is either a really good or a really bad sign for his chances.
The next day, the chefs meet Dario at Decca, a restaurant in Louisville, and my man lives up to his reputation, sharpening his knives while growling “Carne!” and smiling maniacally as he breaks down the cow with ease. From there, the chefs take their cuts of meat and head to the kitchen to get to work.
I won’t bore you with the specifics of each dish, but it’s clear early on who’s in trouble. Kentucky girl Sara drew beef plate as her cut, which she admitted she’s not familiar with. She made it into a sausage, but the casings were too thick, resulting in a soft texture. As a last ditch effort, she throws the pieces in a pan in hopes of adding some crunch, but knows it’s not enough to save her dish. She says she’s “100 percent sure” she’s going home.
Meanwhile, Brandon and David both make steak tartare, which Tom rightfully calls them out on when he visits the kitchen. Brandon’s cut is a loin, so a delicious grilled NY Strip is an obvious choice, but he’s sticking with the tartare because his other attempts at steak so far this season haven’t landed him in the top three. As he’s making his vinaigrette, the top to the grape seed oil bottle falls off and ruins it, forcing him to add xanthan gum to thicken it. You can tell this isn’t going to turn out well.
Brian’s cut is the rib so he makes a charred ribeye, which sounds great, but he cuts off all the good parts. What should be a celebration of meat looks sad, and Tom tells the others after he samples it, “I don’t know how you could cook a piece of meat this poorly.” Ouch.
Most of the chefs struggle with this challenge but a few manage to do justice to the ingredients. Even though he has immunity, Justin nails his flank steak by keeping it simple with a marinade, some polenta and mustard greens. Similarly, Adrienne’s “Black and Bleu” NY Strip with bleu cheese and collard greens is full of flavor. Eddie draws praise for trying something different: ground brisket stuffed in local romaine, a spin on the Polish dish “Golumpki” to honor his Polish heritage.
After scolding the chefs for having “collective amnesia on how to deal with beef” (an awesome burn), Tom praises the three who actually did well: Justin, Adrienne, and Eddie. Eddie gets the win, his first solo victory of the competition, and ditches his resting bitch face for a smile! His prize is an apron signed by Dario and a trip to Tuscany to visit his butcher shop. I’m incredibly jealous. GET THE HERB SALT, EDDIE.
Sara, Brandon, and Brian end up in the bottom three. Tom tells Brian to “stop cooking scared,” aka, don’t torture a piece of meat that’s great all on its own, and lights into Brandon when Brandon reveals he used the xanthan gum as a thickener. Sara is moved to tears when Padma tells her how disappointed she is that a Kentucky girl struggled so much on a Kentucky challenge, but the judges are so pissed about Brandon’s thickener that he’s the one to go home instead. Get it together, Sara!
My Old Kentucky Home Takes
— Some of the Kentucky Proud products featured on the show:
- Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses (shoutout to Barren River Lake!)
- Evans Orchard produce (Georgetown)
- Weisenberger Grits (Midway)
- Elmwood Stock Farm Corn Meal (Georgetown)
- Townsends Sorghum Mill Pure Cane Sorghum (Jeffersonville)
- Gilkison Farm Black Raspberry Jam and cheese (Winchester)
- Foxhollow Farm beef (Crestwood)
— Did you know Kentucky is the largest beef-raising state east of the Mississippi? Me neither, but soon, all of my friends will.
Next week: Lake Cumberland with Below Deck‘s Captain Lee and Below Deck Med‘s Captain Sandy! Now we’re talking!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 17th, 2019 @ 11:30am
If you thought you spotted Dwight Schrute from The Office in Oldham County recently, well, you may have been right.
Rainn Wilson, the actor who portrayed Dwight, is one of the stars of “Don’t Tell A Soul,” a new film that filmed in various locations in Oldham County. In an interview with Wave 3, Wilson said he enjoyed his time in the Bluegrass.
“People in LA are jerks but people in Kentucky are very nice. So I’m thinking about relocating. Do you guys have beaches here anywhere?”
Wilson’s favorite thing about Kentucky, other than the people? The Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown.
“I don’t do bourbon, horse racing, drinking, partying, anything like that. Everyone else went out to shoot guns. And I went to the monastery.”
Wilson may not do bourbon, but has he tried the Abbey’s bourbon fudge? To die for.
You can now call Louisville’s airport “The Greatest.”
This afternoon the Louisville Airport Authority announced the city’s airport, formerly known as Standiford Field, will now be known as Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. The three-digit code will remain SDF; Alice International Airport in Texas had first dibs on the the ALI code.
The three-time Heavyweight Champion now has a street and an airport that bears his name. Frankly, this Louisvillian wouldn’t mind if more things were named after the Louisville Lip. I hear there’s a football stadium that needs a new name.
While I think of more places that could use Ali’s name, enjoy this YouTube rabbit hole of The Greatest.
By Hey Kentucky! on ©January 14th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Kentucky will elect a governor in November of 2019. Today on Hey Kentucky, a Republican who is trying to oust Matt Bevin joined the show to talk about the race.
Republican State Representative Robert Goforth explained why he decided to run against an incumbent from his own party, the details of a bill he introduced to the state legislature and much more in this one-on-one interview with Hey Kentucky.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 11th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
After back-to-back Restaurant Wars episodes, Top Chef: Kentucky finally showed us a little more Kentucky last night, specifically, the Rathskeller at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. To the recap!
Oh yeah, Last Chance Kitchen is a thing
Unless you’re a diehard Top Chef fan, you probably don’t pay any attention to Last Chance Kitchen, the show’s online spinoff where eliminated chefs compete for the chance to get back on the show. After Nini was sent packing for her poor front of house management last week, she’s back to face off against last season’s runner up, Brother Luck, which I refuse to believe is a real name. Instead of a Quickfire Challenge this week, the chefs are split up to help either Nini or Brother Luck get back in the competition. Naturally, this is pretty awkward for those that are put on Brother Luck’s team, like Kelsey, who is close friends with Nini. But, Kelsey’s competitive spirit wins out and she, Kentucky girl Sara, Eddie, Brian, and Adrienne help carry Brother Luck to the win. So, for the second week in a row, Nini is eliminated. That’s gotta sting.
Elimination Challenge: Prohibition Era-style party
Speakeasys are all the rage these days, and Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel is the perfect setting for this week’s Prohibition Era-style challenge. The chefs are tasked with creating a canape to pair with a classic cocktail of the time period for 100 guests. Nic Christiansen, the beverage director of Butchertown Grocery, introduces the cocktails they’ll have to choose from: Gin Rickey, Southside Fizz, Old Fashioned, The Last Word, Whiskey Sour, and the 12 Mile Limit. Only two chefs can be pick a certain cocktail, meaning the last to pick may not end up with their first choice. They’ve got 30 minutes to shop at Whole Foods, three hours to prep and cook, and an additional hour before the party starts the next day.
While the chefs take their fleet of red BMWs to Whole Foods, we learn more about Brother Luck, whose parents were exotic dancers. Maybe his name really is Brother Luck. Some of the other chefs — cough, Kelsey, cough — are a bit standoffish because of their loyalty to Nini, but he makes the best of an awkward situation. Speaking of Kelsey, we find out she used to have a dog named Gatsby, which makes me immediately like her more because same.
All of the chefs are impressed by the Seelbach Hotel when they arrive the next day, and rightfully so. I’ve never been to the Rathskeller bar, but it is a stunner, right out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel — literally. As the guests file in to the dining room, Tom, Padma, Graham Elliot and guest judge chef Ken Oringer make their entrance, all decked out in 1920’s attire, which makes me wonder if Padma came up with this challenge just so she could wear that flapper dress.
Break out your flapper dresses and top hats, we're headed back to the Roaring 20's!
— BravoTopChef (@BravoTopChef) January 10, 2019
Here’s each dish with the corresponding cocktail:
- Eddie: Bourbon-cured salmon crudo with peach puree, caramelized orange gastrique, and brown butter
- Justin: Duck a l’orange with duck liver mousse, bourbon, and greens
- Brandon: Duck and artichoke croquette with pickled fennel relish
- Michelle: Liver mousse gougeres with pickled cherries
- Brother Luck: Chicken salad with cucumber, peanut sauce, beef liver mousse, fresno chiles and herbs
The Last Word
- Brian: Pork, fennel, and Calabrian chile sausage with basil and fennel gnocchi
- Sara: Bay scallops, avocado, eggplant, and crudite
- Kelsey: Scallop ceviche, rhubarb cherry consomme, and corn puree
- Eric: Oysters with bourbon and rum mignonette, grenadine nage floater and pumpernickel
- David: Shrimp tartare, cucumber, apple and radish
- Adrienne: Shrimp and avocado toast with cucumber, watermelon, juniper, and serrano chile
The judges like Kelsey’s scallops, Eric’s oysters, and Eddie’s bourbon-cured salmon the most, with Graham going as far to say the oysters were one of the best things he’s eaten in a while. As a result, Eric gets the win. Congrats, Eric!
As good as the top three dishes were, the bottom three dishes were bad. Tom says Sara’s bay scallops with avocado and eggplant tasted like “a dip you’d find at a table at a PTA meeting.” Ouch! Brian’s sausage and gnocchi didn’t fare much better, with Tom saying it tasted like “sand in a cup” and Padma comparing the gnocchi to a “greasy sponge.” Ultimately, because Brother Luck’s chicken dish with liver mousse was too spicy and had nothing to do with his cocktail, he is sent home. Brother, we hardly knew ye.
Next week: A butchering challenge with Dario Cecchini, the Mad Butcher of Panzano! I can’t wait.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 09th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
There’s a story captivating the Commonwealth and it has nothing to do with sports. A bullet hole was found in a 25th floor window of the Fifth Third Bank Building, aka the Big Blue Building, in downtown Lexington and no one knows how it got there.
The hole, approximately the size of a baseball, was found on Tuesday morning when employees arrived at work. It was not there when they left on Monday. Photos from LEX18:
Jared Lorenzen’s friend works in the office and shared this picture:
Where was the gun fired from? The Big Blue Building, at 30 stories, is by far the tallest building downtown and the bullet appears to have been fired from the outside, not the inside. The guys discussed the mystery on today’s show, so if you missed it, listen to the podcast to catch up on their theories and share your own in the comments.
NOTE: If you didn’t read the LEX18 story, police found fragments of a bullet among the shattered glass.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 04th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
This week’s Top Chef: Kentucky picks up where last week’s left off: Restaurant Wars. Just before the doors to their pop-up restaurants opened, the chefs were informed that this is a double elimination, meaning two of them are going home. But, you know, no pressure or anything. To the recap!
Guests start to file in to each of the three restaurants, and to my surprise, look who it is: TERRY MEINERS! Being the Kentucky royalty that they are, Terry and his wife Mary were invited to the taping and ate at North East, the restaurant run by Eric, Eddie, Adrienne, and Brian. This ended up being a blessing. More on Terry later.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how each restaurant fared when the judges hit the floor:
North East: Eric, Eddie, Adrienne (Executive Chef), and Brian (Front of House)
Apparently assigning numbers to tables and getting the correct dishes to them is really hard because each team struggled with it; however, Adrienne and Brian seem to tackle this issue better than the rest. I had to laugh when the hostess didn’t recognize Padma and her power suit when the judges walked in, but hey, that’s probably good for Padma. Humbling.
The judges worry the rest of the patrons’ food is coming out too slowly, so Brian and Adrienne kick it in to gear and get the food out. Tom says Brian’s chicken ballotine is perfectly cooked, which is surprising given the attention to it in last week’s episode (usually a death knell). Eddie’s striped bass crudo was dubbed “the forgotten crudo” by a patron because it was so bland, but his NY strip is great and his puree “eats like magic” (whatever that means). The pork in Eric’s scallops dish is way too salty, which you could have guessed when Adrienne admits it was the one dish she didn’t have time to taste. The judges love Adrienne’s cheese course and the peach dessert. Bland crudo and salty pork aside, North East did great, and Adrienne and Brian worked together well. Watching Terry Meiners sneak glances at the judges in the background is an added bonus.
By Nick Roush on ©January 04th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
One of Kentucky’s finest is one of the best to ever play Survivor.
Williamsburg native and UK alumnus Nick Wilson won season 37 of Survivor, David vs. Goliath, in December. This morning he spoke to T.J. Walker and I about his experience for more than 30 minutes on Kentucky Roll Call.
The conversation was not like most radio interviews. Nick and I spent a couple years living together in a soon-to-be condemned fraternity house. T.J. is a lifelong Survivor fan. Between the two of us, we spent plenty of time geeking and picking his brain about how the reality show works.
Filmed in the spring, Nick had to keep show secrets for about seven months. That was not his greatest dilemma. That occurred as the Kentucky fan was departing for Fiji in the middle of the NCAA Tournament.
“I watched the first half of the Sweet 16 game in my hotel room. We were in the airport during the second half. I was like, ‘Can I go to the bathroom?’ I went to the bar and looked for the highlights and saw we lost,” Nick said. “I was probably the only Kentucky fan in the country that was glad we lost. I was so relieved.
“I cannot have the Cats going on a Final Four run when I am cut off from society for two months. That would’ve been all I thought about for the next six, seven weeks. I was so excited during the first half. I was like, ‘Let’s go Cats!’ Then once I stepped away from the TV, I was like, ‘Holy crap. If they win, I’m going to go crazy.'”
Kentucky’s loss was Nick’s gain. He kept his sanity throughout his Survivor experience, thanks to his small-town Eastern Kentucky roots.
“I gotta win for them. I felt like if I didn’t win I wouldn’t get everything out of this experience for me and the community,” he said.
“It motivated me, and that’s the God’s honest truth. When we would ride that boat to a challenge, I would think that I know when I get home and this is airing that everybody’s going to be so excited for me and supporting me non-stop. I wanna make ’em proud. The area we live in Southeastern Kentucky, where kids — I remember being in school and teachers ask, ‘What you wanna do?’ And they wouldn’t know or care. I wanted to win or at least do really well so people can look up to me because it’s a dream I had forever. I kept trying and trying until I got it. I worked hard for it and I felt like I earned it.”
Nick did not disappoint anybody in his community when he earned $1 million as the season 37 winner of Survivor.
The Survivor conversation begins around the 33-minute mark of today’s podcast.
Nick gets more bonus points for celebrating his victory at KSBar.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 31st, 2018 @ 3:30pm
For the second week in a row, Top Chef: Kentucky didn’t showcase a lot of Kentucky, but it’s okay because we were treated to the challenge of the season earlier than usual: Restaurant Wars. To the recap!
This week’s Quickfire Challenge is to create an “amuse bouche,” aka the perfect bite. The chefs are given 30 minutes and split into three groups based on the types of plates they’ll have to use: Chinese spoons, ramekins, or small plates. The guest judges are Top Chef alums and James Beard award winners Karen Akunowicz and Nina Compton, who reminisce about how stressful the show was.
Brandon’s chowder, Eric’s curry bisque, and Michelle’s halibut with compressed watermelon finish in the top three while Adrienne’s bell pepper-wrapped lamb, David’s pasta, and Kelsey’s shrimp and grits hush puppy land in the bottom three. Michelle’s halibut gets top marks, which means she wins immunity, and the coy smile she gives the camera reminds me her grandmother was a shaman for the cartel. Again, don’t mess with Michelle.
Elimination Challenge: Restaurant Wars!
If you’ve watched Top Chef before, you know the highlight of every season is Restaurant Wars, where the chefs are split into two teams to open pop up restaurants. This usually comes later in the season, but the judges surprised the chefs early this year and split the group into teams of three based on their plating choices from the Quickfire Challenge. Each team will have two days to conceptualize, design, and open their restaurant, with $3,500 for ingredients and 30 minutes to plan their menu.
The Orange Team consists of Eric, Eddie, Adrienne, and Brian, and since they’re all from the Northeast, they decide to call their restaurant — wait for it — North East. They elect Brian to run the front of the house and Adrienne executive chef, and the fact that Brian is so confident about his chicken ballotine (deboned chicken stuffed and rolled before being cooked) should be a clue that this might not work out so well; however, Brian is more confident than we’ve seen him all season and stays up all night working on a server’s manual. Go Brian!
The Grey Team is Sara, Pablo, Michelle, and Brandon, and decides to call their restaurant “Thistle” since it’ll be focused on vegetable dishes, BUT NOT VEGETARIAN (that part’s in caps because the concept Sara comes up with seems to really worry Pablo. I hear you, Pablo). Sara immediately assumes control, taking the front of house role, while Michelle offers to be executive chef to take the pressure off the others since she’s got immunity. Once again, Sara’s confidence seems to rub her teammates — in this case, Pablo — the wrong way, but she seems at ease organizing the servers and setting things up.
The Teal Team is made up of Kelsey, Nini, Justin, and David. Since the majority of them are from the South, they name their restaurant “Third Coast” with a modern antebellum theme, or, as Justin calls it, “Forrest Gump’s mom’s house 2.0.” Hilariously, they hold their team meeting in the giant jacuzzi at the mansion while drinking champagne, but the good vibes quickly wear off. Nini takes the role of front of house and immediately seems in over her head, which is even more worrisome since she’s also doing a complicated ice cream dessert that requires stirring before service. Cue the foreshadowing! Like a true Southern boss lady, Kelsey steps in and takes control when she realizes the servers have no idea what they’re doing, which annoys Justin and David because they need her in the kitchen.
With two minutes left until the restaurants open, Tom steps in and drops a bomb: this is a double elimination challenge, meaning two chefs will go home. EEEK. Of course, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out who. To be continued…
My Old Kentucky Home Takes
— The only parts of Kentucky we really got to see was the Lundy’s special event warehouse in Lexington where the chefs’ pop-up restaurants are set up and a short B-Roll montage of Lexington landmarks. The Kentucky Theater sign looks good, though.
— Did you notice several of the chefs drinking Ale-8-One at the beginning? Nice touch.
— Eddie managed not to spend the team’s entire budget while at Whole Food. PROGRESS, EDDIE!
Next: Restaurant Wars, Part II. Padma spits something out and two chefs are going home. Oh, the drama!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 24th, 2018 @ 5:15pm
Juggling multiple Christmases is never fun, but the drama boiled over last night in London, Kentucky, where a man was arrested for throwing a ham at a woman during an argument over which day to host Christmas.
Laurel County police responded to a call about a domestic dispute and caught David Brannon, 21, trying to run away from his house. He was arrested on charges of fourth-degree assault and fleeing or evading police on foot and taken to the Laurel County Detention Center. The fight was reportedly over what day his family wanted to host Christmas.
Who throws a ham? Honestly.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 24th, 2018 @ 10:00am
Two Kentucky legends have finally made their way back to the state.
Justify and American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winners since 1977 and 1978, arrived back at Coolmore America here in Versailles, KY to meet for the very first time.
The meeting happened this past weekend:
What could be better than standing one Triple Crown winner…standing two! American Pharoah and Justify finally met each other at Coolmore America this morning! #CoolmoreSires #HomeOfTripleCrownChampions pic.twitter.com/3FV2KW0Qg9
— Coolmore America (@coolmoreamerica) December 22, 2018
Justify took home the Triple Crown in 2018 while American Pharoah won the most prestigious feat in horse racing back in 2015.
Here was a brief clip of American Pharoah’s grand entrance back home, where he will finally see his first runners coming up in 2019:
— Coolmore America (@coolmoreamerica) December 22, 2018
— TDN (@theTDN) December 24, 2018
While we’re at it, here is American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory in all its glory back in 2015:
And Justify’s wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes to take home the crown earlier this year:
Still never gets old.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 21st, 2018 @ 3:30pm
It’s Christmas week on Top Chef: Kentucky (even though I’m pretty sure they filmed this during the summer). Most of the action takes place indoors this episode, meaning we don’t get to see a lot of our Old Kentucky Home, but there are still plenty of desserts and drama to drool over. To the recap!
Quickfire: The worst gift exchange ever
Top Chef Season 14 winner Brooke Williamson and Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais help Padma out with this week’s Quickfire Challenge. The chefs will have 30 minutes to create a holiday dish but only two minutes to choose their ingredients. Of course, there’s a twist. Once the chefs return from the pantry, Padma tells them they must swap their ingredients in a White Elephant gift exchange. Brian gets really excited about the “Yankee Swap,” yelling out, “I’m from Boston, you know what I mean!” Yeah…we know that apparently you don’t realize that White Elephant gift exchanges happen everywhere, not just in the Northeast. Also, the ingredients you chose suck, so you’re really lucky.
Anyways, the chefs make do with what they have. The judges praise Sara’s take on fried chicken livers and Nini’s cream cheese chutney with apples, but it’s David’s leek noodles that get the win and immunity in the elimination challenge. Back-to-back Quickfire wins for David! Considering he only had leeks to work with, that’s pretty impressive.
Elimination Challenge: Too many cooks in the kitchen
The chefs return to the mansion (aka “The Avish” in Prospect, if you missed last week’s recap), where they’re greeted by Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, and OMG IT’S ERIC RIPERT. Everyone’s favorite French chef is joining the gang for a “Réveillon de Noël,” or traditional Christmas feast. Some of the chefs almost wet themselves with excitement, but to be fair, it would be like Freddie Maggard crashing your Citrus Bowl watch party. Eric Ripert is a big damn deal!
Just as the chefs are starting to relax, the realization dawns on them that of course this isn’t just a magical Christmas feast in the middle of May with Eric Ripert; this is also the elimination challenge. The chefs have two hours to make one of the 13 desserts that are part of a traditional Réveillon de Noël. The extra twist? They have to do it in the kitchen at the mansion. All 13 of them.
Since I watch both Top Chef and The Great British Baking Show, I know that “cooking” and “baking” are two entirely different things, so naturally, some of the chefs are worried, with Brian going as far to complain, “I cut meat, I don’t bake.” In fact, Nini and Kelsey are the only chefs with pastry experience. Nini, an intense little thing, threatens to kill anyone who opens the bottom oven while her pastry is inside, and then Sara goes and opens it. Given the ominous music that plays when this happens, I thought it was going to be a much bigger deal than it ended up being. Phew.
At judging, the chefs present their dishes. The judges don’t hold back, comparing Adrienne’s almond daquoise to “frozen orange juice” and swearing off biscuits after tasting Brian’s sweet and savory offering. Pablo’s dark chocolate tart is too boring and Kevin’s ricotta cake is too salty, which Brandon tried to warn him about in the kitchen.
In the end, Kelsey’s chocolate pot de crème, Nini’s blackberry and lemon vacherin, and Eddie’s strawberry shortcake crumble are the top three dishes. Nini wins her second straight Elimination Challenge, but it was nice to see Eddie get some praise. He was still beating himself up over last week’s lamb debacle. IT’S OKAY, EDDIE!
Kevin’s salty ricotta cake, Pablo’s basic chocolate tart, and Brian’s vinegary biscuit make up the bottom three. While all three dishes were gross, Kevin is the one who goes home because his dish was “so salty it was inedible.” But it’s all good, guys. He got to eat with Eric Ripert and someone’s going to water his garden for him.
My Old Kentucky Home Takes
— Again, aside from the wild turkeys outside the mansion at the beginning of the episode, we didn’t get to see much of the Bluegrass State; however, I am all for the budding bromance between Brian and Brandon. The bonding moment over Brandon’s hair straightener was kind of awesome.
— Kentucky girl Sara had a good week after coming off as a bit cocky in the last episode. We got to hear a little bit more about her childhood as “the only Jewish kid in Kentucky” and her biscuit with coconut “whooped” cream looked great to me. It is more fun when you say “whooped”!
— I wonder who ended up having to clean the kitchen the next day? Did they make Kevin do it before he left?
Next week: Restaurant wars, bubble baths, and hopefully more of the Bluegrass State.
By Hey Kentucky! on ©December 19th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Matt Jones weighed in on Matt Bevin and the latest in the pension crisis on Wednesday’s edition of “Hey Kentucky,” following the governor’s failed special session in Frankfort. He called Bevin “weak” and “ineffective” in Bevin’s attempt to resolve the pension issue, while giving his thoughts on the most important topic in the Bluegrass.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 8:47am
Last week, Top Chef introduced its contestants to Kentucky with a trip to Churchill Downs and a Kentucky Derby party-themed challenge. This week, the chefs visited another recognizable Kentucky landmark, Maker’s Mark, where they tried their hand at some of the Bluegrass’ most famous dishes. To the recap!
Quickfire: Feed Pregnant Gail
First things first: Gail Simmons is super pregnant so she can’t be a judge this season; however, she’s still making the chefs cook for her, which I admire. This week’s Quickfire Challenge is to make Gail a dish to satisfy her pregnancy cravings, which include red meat, spicy food, Middle Eastern food, Asian food, and lots of pasta. Predictably, most people make steak and David’s ribeye with corn wins out after his ingredients are flown up to New York and Gail and her friend make the dish themselves. I get that Gail can’t fly because she’s in her third trimester, but this seemed like a lot of work for a Quickfire. Anyways, David gets immunity and Gail gets to eat.
Elimination Challenge: Burgoo, hoecakes, mutton, oh my!
After the Quickfire, Padma informs the chefs that they’re going to Maker’s Mark, which everyone freaks out about because bourbon. On the way to Loretto, Kentucky girl Sara brags about her piece in Garden & Gun (who wouldn’t?) and Eddie looks stressed out, which is a harbinger of things to come. Once at Maker’s, Rob Samuels leads them on a tour, where they get to hand dip bottles off the line, not at the dipping station at the gift shop like the rest of us plebeians.
After the tour, they meet Newman Miller, Executive Chef of Star Hill Provisions and Chef-In-Residence at Maker’s Mark, who treats them to a feast of Kentucky’s most iconic dishes: burgoo, catfish, mutton, benedictine spread, frog legs, banana croquettes, spoonbread, soup beans, hoecakes, etc. Just as everyone is getting full and happy off the food and booze, here comes Padma with a butcher’s block. Party’s over, y’all!
If you didn’t see this coming, the Elimination Challenge is for the chefs to put their own spin on Kentucky classics. The 14 chefs are divided into teams of two, with each responsible for a dish for a family-style meal for 48 guests. Each team gets $1,500 to spend on ingredients and two and a half hours to prep and cook. The chef with the best dish from the winning team gets $10,000, while the chef with the worst dish from the losing team goes home.
Naturally, Kentucky girl Sara is feeling some pressure because if she can’t get Kentucky dishes right, that would be totally embarrassing; unfortunately, that anxiety causes her to come off as super cocky, prompting Nini to get a little snippy. I’m rooting for Sara, but listening to her go on and on about how she could nail each dish was pretty annoying. You go, Nini.
At Whole Foods, the drama begins. Eddie spends $500 on lamb instead of the $250 the team budgeted for it, which forces the rest of the Black Team to sacrifice ingredients for their dishes to come out under $1,500. By the time they get it sorted out, there are multiple carts full of discarded items. As Kelsey says, shoutout to the people who have to restock all that.
Back at Maker’s Mark, it is HOT outside, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a little bit of glee from watching people not from the South deal with heat and humidity. Combine that with the Black Team having to make do with limited ingredients (THANKS, EDDIE) and you’ve got a cranky bunch. Brian struggles to figure out how to operate a pressure cooker or a food processor, which I’d argue that, as a chef, he should probably know how to do. Not only does Natalie not have enough lemons to make a good lemon curd pie (THANKS EDDIE), the heat has melted it into a gross, pudding-like blob.
While the chefs scramble to finish, Padma, Tom, the judges, and guests relax on the lawn at Maker’s Mark. The Black Team brings their food out first and the judges seem to like Eddie’s lamb, which Tom notes is the only thing that was properly seasoned. Probably because he spent so much on it the other chefs couldn’t afford seasonings? Justin hoecakes are a hit, as is Eric’s banana desert, which Greg Davis, the random Maker’s Mark Ambassador at the tables, literally giggled over. (Correction: I’ve since learned that Davis is the former master distiller at Maker’s, but now works at Jim Beam, so he’s not just a random Maker’s Ambassador. Cheers, Greg!) Meanwhile, Pablo’s burgoo was greasy, Brandon’s chicken and dumplings were “an atrocity,” and Natalie’s lemon curd pie was bland. THANKS EDDIE.
It’s immediately clear that the Red Team’s going to win. Tom says Nini’s New Orleans inspired spoonbread with shrimp étouffée sauce “should be a new Kentucky thing” and writer and bourbon critic Fred Minnick says Sara’s burnt cabbage with soup beans and country ham chow “tastes like Kentucky to me.” Well done, Sara. When random Maker’s Mark Ambassador Greg finds out Sara is from Paducah, he exclaims, “No wonder I liked it so much!” International food and travel editor Nilou Motamed said David’s lamb with black BBQ sauce tasted like a “bourbon on a plate,” which I believe is a good thing.
Anyways, the Red Team wins and the Black Team loses, which sends Eddie into a spiral of shame. He admits to the judges that he spent too much on his lamb, forcing everyone to sacrifice on their dishes. Because the judges liked his lamb so much, he’s safe. Natalie, last week’s winner, is going home for her bland lemon curd blob. From winner to loser in just one week! This is a harsh world, this Top Chef.
Nini ends up winning the $10,000 for her spoonbread étouffée. Sorry, Kentucky girl Sara. At least you’ve got that Garden & Gun writeup.
My Old Kentucky Home Takes
— Once again, the Bluegrass State looks beautiful on camera, Maker’s Mark especially. I’ve always joked that, of all the distilleries, Maker’s feels most like Bourbon Disneyland, and one of the chefs, Michelle, agrees, saying as they walk onto the grounds, “It smells like malt and yeast and sweet corn. It feels like we’re in a bourbon fairytale.”
— Speaking of Michelle, did you catch her saying her grandmother was a shaman for the most violent tribe in Mexico? That revelation came out while the chefs were planting vegetables on the plots of land Tom assigned to them outside their mansion. Nobody mess with Michelle.
— Speaking of that mansion, shoutout to BlueKel on Twitter for finding it on Zillow. The six-bed, ten-bath, 20,000-square foot house is nestled on 21 acres in Prospect and is called “The Avish” (you know a house is fancy if it has its own name). In April, it sold for $2.7 million. I wonder what the owners could get for it now that it’s being featured on Top Chef.
Next week: Christmas at the mansion featuring Eric Ripert! Nini says she’s gonna murder someone. Oh, how fun!