Top Chef Kentucky


Also, Poor BRIAN … the restaurant where he worked closed suddenly right before this episode aired.

After watching what he did to the ribeye, maybe his “butcher” job might be in jeopardy too ….


I know, right? If you pour too much olive oil, can’t you just take a spoon and scoop the extra out? It’s not like he was pouring it into liquid. It was tartar! He could have even used his (gloved) hand and held the tartar in place and poured out the excess if it was really that much in there.


From this interview it kind of seems as though the xanthan gum was always part of the plan, but chemically bonded with the oil spill and even pouring off didn’t help with the slime factor:

Can you walk us through what happened in the kitchen that led to your use of xanthan to thicken your dish?
My dish was envisioned to be a take on an Asian-inspired beef tartare. I wanted to have a thin layer of this bourbon sake glaze that lightly coated the cubes of meat to help accent the beef flavor. For the base of the sauce, I used xanthan gum to give it the right texture and viscosity. However, this plan went sideways in the last 10 minutes, after the bottle top of the grapeseed oil fell off and filled my sauce with oil, which was then emulsified in by the xanthan gum. I attempted to adjust and re-season the sauce with lime juice and some vinegar among a few other ingredients and brought it up the best I could, but I was racing to beat the clock with little time left. I needed to get it on the plate quickly. There was not enough time to start it over nor did I have enough of my ingredients. I adjusted the best I could under the circumstances. The dish had good flavor, and the majority of the technique was on point, but the texture was not ideal."

John Tesar won a challenge for mac and cheese made with xanthan gum in the Charleston season, and I remember the judges raving about it. He got the xanthan gum from Katsuji, the man of a thousand ingredients. I don’t think Katsuji would have brought it if it wasn’t something he didn’t plan to use.

I don’t use xanthan gum, but it’s commonly used in vegan and celiac cooking. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, you can get it at the supermarket. More pertinent to this show it’s a common ingredient in Modernist Cuisine especially for doing foams and such - which makes me wonder if other chefs like Marcel Vigneron or Richard Blais have used it before on Top Chef without mentioning it.


::::Spoilers below, so don’t read if you’ve not watched::::: It’s too hard not to name names. LOL

So how are the cheftestants going to recover from the Really Bad Awfully Dreadful and Disappointing Beef Challenge?

They get to go houseboating on Lake Cumberland, the houseboating capital of the world. I guess Kentucky has more lake shoreline than the state of Florida, according to Sara.

But they’re not going to have fun - they get to cook, clean and decorate for 100 guests plus judges., of course. And Emeril is one of the guest judges, as are the Below Deck people, Lee and Sandy.

The Meat Challenge Winner, Eddie, gets to pick his team first. Which freaks him out. He chooses Adrienne, Michelle, David, and Brian for the Blue Team. REALLY, Eddie? REALLY? You didn’t choose Justin or Eric? Or choose a Southerner (Sara or Kelsey)??? I kinda figured his team was going to be a mess right then and there.

The other team is Sara, Kelsey, Eric and Justin (Green Team). Shopping at WF with $1500 budget. Kelsey’s team wants to “have fun!” so they buy party supplies and plan to make Jello Shots. Brian said “We’re catering a meal; they’re catering a kegger.” Plus, Brian wants to show off his meat skills, so their menu is much more serious. Ohhhhh, there you go. Hint #2!

Both houseboats don’t have large kitchens, so prep area will be crowded. Sure enough, power goes out in the Blue Team’s boat. Generator Repair Guy finally fixes it, after Kelsey from the Green Team offers them their oven for Brian’s porchetta, as they weren’t going to be using it. (Wait - a houseboat party, and you’re serving porchetta, Brian?) But the induction burner and a convection oven helps them out until the power comes back on.

Meanwhile, the Green Team is taste-testing their Bourbon Peach Jiggle Juice. And getting a bit hammered, so they go off to sleep.

Day of party - Adrienne wakes up sick as a dog (not from Jiggle Juice), so Eddie takes on plating her shrimp tacos while she sleeps through service. The Green Team’s fryer goes all wonky, so Eric has to go below deck to heat up a pot of oil to fry his walleye but he pulls it off, having nicely crispy hot fish to serve, while Blue Team Michelle’s fried fish was good, but cold as she had fried it too early.

I would most definitely want to be on the Green Team’s boat. Fun atmosphere, more party-like food appropriate for a houseboat. Green Team wins with 79 of 100 votes, with David and Brian in the bottom two for the Blue Team (Eddie’s poached shrimp skewer was one of the worst dishes, but Eddie managed to pull out of the bottom with his presentation of Adrienne’s shrimp tacos).

And the Meat Guy goes home. :::Not-So-Sad Trombone:::: Which he deserved to. Most definitely NOT houseboat fare, IMO.

Well, he goes off to LCK to try and battle back. Which I watched the last 3 of, BTW. Interestingly, Brother decided to bow out of LCK completely, so the previously booted 5 cheftestants got a chance to compete to come back into TC before Brandon got into LCK. The right person (based on how the dishes looked) has been winning. We’ll see how that person fares going forward.

On to Nashville![/spoiler]


I was waiting for this update by you!

These challenges annoy me. Why does cleaning the boat have anything to do with cooking? The power should stay on! This isn’t Survivor: Top Chef. They are there to make food and in this challenge create a party.

It was a bit too obvious that Brian was going to get sent home. Porchetta is for family holiday parties! Boat party in the middle of the day? Nope. AND WHY was he standing in a hot tub?! That was the most bizarre idea. He has barely been hanging on through the last few weeks. The only challenge he won was one he wasn’t really cooking!

I actually thought the judges were going to get on Kelsey for her oyster. Seemed really simple, but it did really fit with the concept. I want to eat oyster on a boat, too.


I think because he realized that their concept was WAY too serious and not “fun”. This was his attempt at “fun”. Mechelle’s idea of trivia in the car obviously wasn’t going to happen. LOL

(kim) #107

Yay! An LW recap at last! :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap: (And, as in the old days, I read it without having watched the episode first :wink:


Agreed -this challenge dipped back into the “crazy cooking” category - why couldn’t they prep in the real kitchen and then set-up and finish on the boat . . . . . I was very pleased to see the other boat offer their oven/etc since they weren’t using them, that was a stand up move from Kelsey (pretty sure that’s her name, starting to learn them now).

And WOW was Eddie’s team a bunch of non-party people. I mean they almost sucked the life out of the party and listening them try to have a simple conversation with the guests was painful. But I guess not everyone is meant to be “front of house”, which is fine - just painful to watch.

The one party goer’s comment of “the food was better on the blue boat but the party was better on the green” seemed so evident from the editing. I would have liked to know how close the vote was because of that.

(Andrea) #109

Didn’t Padma say the winning team had 79 votes? If that’s out of 100 guests, that’s a landslide.


Not Kentucky, but Fatima Ali, ‘Top Chef’ fan favorite, dies at 29

I really liked her.


So, fun translates to my server/cook handing me food while his feet AND SHOES (why did he leave his shoes on…?) are wet. And this is what he described as a ‘soiree’? That was just weird; why would that be fun for someone else?

Yeah, power going out on a boat seems patently unfair. Not that this may have been why they didn’t win, but how would they have been expected to work around that if it didn’t come back on? There are some challenges that chefs should need to think creatively to work around, but no power or heat after the ingredients were already bought?

And to Sara, the Kentucky native who bragged that her state has more shoreline than FL: even if that is technically true…shore line of a lake vs shoreline by the ocean…? Sorry, does not compare. Call me a coast snob!


I did too. :cry: I read this last night and teared up. She had a rough 2 years, and glad that at least she’s out of pain now. RIP.

(Gwenn) #113

Linda’s back!! Thanks for the update. Question - did Nashville move to Kentucky?


LOL! I was wondering about that as well. Padma DID say Nashville, right?

(Gwenn) #115

Yes and one of the chefs commented on the music scene. I’m so confused!!!


Nashville is next up. Not Kentucky, but OK. Into their cars for the drive, with one stop to let Adrienne out of the car to deal with still being sick. They’re at the Grand Ol’ Opry, and they have to grab a musician’s “rider” for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and make something that ties in with what the musician(s) like to eat backstage. The riders don’t give a whole lot of instructions, except eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, red meat for dinner.

David bogarts the entire carton of eggs, and doesn’t give any up except a couple to Kelsey, so Eric goes with oatmeal. Adrienne is still feeling like crap, so she goes with red meat for dinner, as it’ll be easy to deal with.

Turns out the musician is Hunter Hayes. He and Padma plow through the dishes - and it turns out that David and Kelsey are two of the three who are in the bottom. Adrienne’s dish of filet mignon with corn and roasted red pepper sauce ends up winning. (it DID look good!)

The EC is a dish made on a personal music memory, with 2 hours to prep and 2 hours to cook the next day. Adrienne gets an extra hour to cook on the day of service for winning the QC. Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill and his wife, Lily Aldridge, chefs Jonathan Waxman and Sean Brock are the guests.

The song choices are interesting - music from Cake (Eddie), Etta James (Kelsey), Hank Williams (Sara), Incubus (David), the Beatles (Michelle), Prince (Justin), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Adrienne), and The Notorious B.I.G. (Eric).

Shopping at WF - David doesn’t get the octopus he wants and switches to clams, which end up being problematic for him (along with an over-reduction of the sauce, turning it into a salt bomb). Justin goes with a purple-inspired dish - but DOH! only plates 9 out of 10 plates for the judges because he completely forgot the 10th plate, which means he’s not eligible to win (even though his plate ended up being in the Top 3). Kelsey goes with a deconstructed pot pie, which LOOKS great on the plate, but for some unknown reason, she salts the rim of the plate, which Graham Eliot says makes it like the rim of a margarita glass. Tom’s a bit put out by the oversalting of several of the dishes.

Michelle’s dish - Red snapper with corn, fava ragout, citrus vinaigrette and fennel onion puree - ends up being the winner. It made as a tribute to her father, who took his life when she was 16, as the smell of corn reminds her of her father. Tom calls it the best dish of the season so far, and Sean Brock said he wants to hire her for his restaurant - a high compliment indeed!

The bottom 3 are Eddie, Kelsey, and David, and it’s David that goes to LCK for the oversaltiness of his pork and clams with morels, clam salad, crispy potatoes. Waxman likened it to the Dead Sea. Now that’s salty!

Next week is a 3-on-3 basketball-inspired competition - and it looks like Adrienne gets into some trash-talking about Sara that could be rough on their friendship. (However, there ARE 7 cheftestants left - wonder if someone gets a bye after winning the QC?)


As always, a perfect summary.

I am bummed that our local contestant is out but hopeful he pulls it together for last chance kitchen.

I liked this challenge but feel like most of the contestants picked a song then a memory, but not something that was a song/food memory. Seemed like only Michelle really GOT the challenge and made that link. She seems like a dark horse.


(I’m afraid to say anything for fear of scaring off these fabulous posts from Linda . . . . :smiley: )

So someone needs to explain to me, if David over-reduced his sauce (didn’t burn it, just over-reduced) why didn’t he just add water back into it before adding butter? When you’re reducing a sauce (he was just boiling in a pot) aren’t you primarily just boiling off the water, so wouldn’t adding water back into it bring it back to where he wanted it? So I’m guessing he had to over salt it when it was more liquid and when it got to the intensity he wanted it was now over-salted. That isn’t over-reducing but everyone kept saying that was the problem. So I was confused.

Michelle’s story made me cry (I’ve been super emotion recently anyway). Emotional trauma is so hard to shake, especially when it comes from family. I was proud of her for the dish and for getting to where she is with her perspective on her father’s death.

I’m glad they are experimenting with “stupid judges” rather than “stupid challenges” this season (or maybe I’m noticing more this season). I didn’t get why 1/2 those people were at judges table or what they were contributing. But the one guy’s joke about “if you’re gonna have a ‘nage’ on the plate, shouldn’t your inspiration be Nicki Minaj” was hysterical.


Sean Brock worked in Nashville before opening Husk in Charleston, SC. So kind of makes sense. And the entire table cracked up at the nage comment.

I guess there was another chef - Tandy Wilson? He was the one who said “I’ve always wanted to be there when you say this was the best dish of the season.” Don’t know him, however.

And I agree with adding water to de-salt the sauce, BUT that would also thin it out - and I’m not sure David had enough time to deal with both water AND then adding butter.

(Gwenn) #120

I loved the way MIchelle had everyone crying! I was glad she won.