Foodies, it is time for the Top Chef Kentucky Finale! It’s been a great season. I am a bit sad to see it go. But, no ending of this episode could disappoint me. I love all three of the final three chefs. The two southern girls, Sara Bradley and Kelsey Barnard Clark are up for some stiff competition from Eric Adjepong! With all of the expanded episodes airing tonight it took two DVRs and a lot of scheduling to get everything recorded tonight, but this is priority one.
Time To Chose Your Sous Chefs!
After watching a reel of their journey to the finale, the chefs each get to choose two sous chefs. They have ten options. That’s almost everybody!
Kelsey chooses Brandon Rosen for his
hair knife skills. Her second pick was Nini Nguyen. Because, desserts.
Eric chooses Justin Sutherland. Because, beard alliance. His second choice was Michelle Minori. I would not have picked her.
Sara chooses Eddie Konrad. Because, happiness train. Her second choice was David Viana. Because, Portuguese.
This is crazy. All three chefs have to plan and cook a four course meal. But after two hours of prep, the judges will come to the kitchen to taste their first course. At that point, one of them will be eliminated. Man, that is brutal!
Kelsey Barnard Clark
Kelsey’s theme is “Summers In The South.” Basically what she has been doing since she got to Macau. Southern cooking with Macanese ingredients incorporated.
First Course: Buttermilk with cornbread. Seriously? She’s going to make cornbread? That’s it? Do they even sell buttermilk in Macau? It’s hard enough to find in the barrio here. Her plan B is oysters. I bet she changes to that.
Second Course: Warm vichyssoise (um not southern or Macanese) pickled green tomato with cheese straw and caviar.
Third Course: Soft shell crab
Fourth Course: Peach cobbler (Even I can make that. No baking involved ,yet she mentions biscuits.)
I presume Eric’s them is Ghana in Macau or something similar.
First Course: Spiced jerk tartare. Ew.
Second Course : Lobster Yassa, a spicy dish prepared with onions
Third Course: Short ribs
Fourth Course: Sorbet
Sara’s theme is Asian, Portuguese and a healthy dose of Southern Cooking. It’s about her Top Chef journey.
First Course: Chili Prawns with boiled peanuts
Second Course : A pork belly and clam dish with corn pudding
Third Course: Duck with beets and blacked-eyed peas
Fourth Course: Beef with dirty rice (no dessert)
Off To Red Market!
They have about five hundred dollars and three hours to shop. Why is Kelsey talking about fruits and vegetable in the cornbread? I am so confused! Eric needs some really fresh beef tenderloin for his tartare. Everyone is hyper-focused on their first course. Sara has to find green peanuts or she is screwed. She finds them.
Kelsey and Sara are super close and excluding Eric a bit. All three of them enjoy their lovely room the night before the big test.
The First Course
Brandon is making Kelsey’s “buttermilk soup.” That sounds scary. Oh hell yeah. Kelsey brought he cast iron skillets from home for making cornbread “cornsticks.” That was genius. Then I find out she puts sugar in her cornbread. That is all sorts of wrong. Do the citizens of Alabama know about this travesty? Also she let Nini make the batter. WTF is she actually making for her first course?
Eric’s tartare sounds great if you are in to that sort off thing. Michelle is worried that Eric wants his lotus chips too thick. Eric’s tartare is just how he wants it.
Sara is including grapes with her prawns and boiled peanuts. That’s weird. David is making XO sauce for the prawns. It’s Portuguese meets Kentucky. I like this.
The First Elimination
The judges start with Sara’s dish. Her presentation speech was good. The judges loved it. The female judge I don’t know said it was kind of grainy. Sara is staying.
Kelsey’s dish confused the judges. They don’t like having to crumble their own cornbread. In fact the concept seem a bit too much for them to carry out. They don’t know what to do with the buttermilk. Kelsey is going home. She deserves it for putting sugar in cornbread. Kelsey has boiled peanuts in her dish too. Why?
Padma loved the buttermilk soup. Tom says something is dated and it could have used more peanuts. Why? The fourth judge looks at everyone like they are nuts and politely suggests that the soup was just buttermilk and she wanted more flavor.
The Judges Make a Brutal Cut
Eric’s presentation was visually beautiful. He throws in a story about slave trade. Padma loves the finger limes. Tom asks how long her marinated his meat for. Ut oh. That’s bad. Graham and Padma rave about the tartare. Then Tom says it has too many ingredients so they both start to backpedal. Ugh.
When Tom critiques Kelsey’s dish he calls it buttermilk and biscuits. He didn’t even know what he was eating. But the judges eliminate Eric. The lotus chips were burnt and they could not taste the beef in the tartare. I’m sad for Eric. I was sort of expecting a last-minute vagicide. Instead, we got two female chefs in the finale for only the second time. I think.
Eric makes a quick exit.
The top two chefs have four hours left in day one to prep for tomorrow. Kelsey’s soft shell crabs are not getting crispy enough without tempura batter. It’s a dilemma because they wanted to use a different batter. Brandon suggests tempura with cornmeal as a compromise.
Tom Colichio tells Sara to add “an herbal note” to her first course. It occurs to me we are nearly halfway through the episode and he hasn’t said “umami” yet.
Graham Elliot and Tom tell Kelsey she should add something to her buttermilk soup to boost the flavor, perhaps sea urchin or crab. Where the hell is she supposed to get that? She just so happens to have special ordered crawfish as a back up. Quelle surprise. They are going to pick her to win.
The Final Day Of Cooking
Kelsey is cooking first. Then after she is completely done, Sara will cook. She is still worked about her fried soft shell crabs. Brandon solves the problem.
The first course is a hit with most of the guest judges. Tom said it was very successful. The chef from Aji says Kelsey’s second course is one of the best dishes he has eaten this year. That draws gasps from everyone. No one said two soups in a row? Because two soups in a row. Kelsey says she should have made that her fourth dish because it is her best one. I agree. But then where would the peach cobbler have gone?
During the crab course, the only guest judge who has criticized anything doesn’t think the dish is cohesive. The have to dip the crab into the sauce. Tom says the crab is not as crispy as it should be. Also, the crab is not very good. Oh No! This is bad. Tom says it is frozen soft shell crab. A guest chef says there is no fresh soft shell crab in Asia. Padma said the beans had too much acid. Kelsey is worried about this dish
Before the fourth course, one guest judge says, “Now I am really ready for dessert.” This is bad news for Sara. Kelsey’s peach cobbler is not peach cobbler. Deconstructed peach cobbler perhaps? It has honeysuckle ice cream and schezuan pepper corn whipped cream. Kelsey got emotional in front of the judges. The fourth judge didn’t like the ice cream. Another judge liked it but didn’t taste the pepper in the whipped cream. Tom says she did a great job.
Sara brought Carolina gold rice from home. She literally brought rich to China. They love her first course from yesterday. Especially the boiled peanuts.
I’m not really sure what Sara’s second dish is. There is pork belly and peaches? Officially it is braised bacon with razor clams and baby corn with pickled peaches. That seems like a lot of things that don’t go together. Sara talks too much and lets them know she is not confident in her dish and she thinks it is too salty. Two of the judges thought the bacon was way too salty. But two others said that in combination with the peaches it worked for them. Tom is fine with the salt level. It’s bacon. But the saffron and orange juice has no place on the plate. The OJ was added at the last-minute to counterbalance the salt.
The third course, duck was a hit. Tom says the pickled beet was the best accompaniment on the dish and there should have been more of it. One chef loved the tamarind. One chef wanted the blackeyed peas pureed.
For the final course Sara does a much better speech about her transformation on Top Chef. They judges loved this course and some said it was her best. The also did not miss dessert at all. The ribeye was amazingly cooked. The fourth judge says, “mid drop!” It’s anyone’s guess who wins
The Judges’ Table
The judges rave about both chefs. Graham says that Kelsey’s cornbread was better on the first day. He likes the crispy outside. I’m a fan of the inside and don’t want any hard parts. Sometimes I throw the outside away. Tom says the buttermilk dish is what Tom will remember her for. Sara is knocked for her saffron. Tom said her third course needed something to tie it together. They are saying everything they already said to each other. Tom calls Sara’s fourth course “damn near perfect.” They had some issues with Kelsey’s dessert. Padma tells them both that little girls everywhere will have watched what they have done and look up to them. They cry. I wonder what little girls are doing up at ten pm.
When they talk among themselves, it seems like they want to make them both win. I hope they don’t do that.
All the chefs and both girls moms and husbands are there for the moment the winner of Top Chef Kentucky is chosen. And the winner is…
Kelsey Barnard Clark!
So, what did you think? Talk to me!