Top Chef has finally arrived in the Commonwealth. As a Lexington resident, I could sense their presence. I felt the smugness roll in like a fabulous fog when Padma’s plane landed. Even without seeing him, I could feel Tom’s piercing gaze searing into my soul. I know that those white chef coats are near me, even though I have not been able to snag a spot as one of the goobers in the background. Top Chef Kentucky hits the sweet spot in my Venn diagram of beloved interests. I love cooking competitions and I adore the bluegrass state. Naturally, I have a few ideas for what Padma and Co. should cook up for their Kentucky challenges. Below are some of my unsolicited ideas for quick fires and main heat challenges, feel free to compensate me for these genius ideas. (I’m looking at you Magical Elves Entertainment Co.)
Kentucky Basketball Quickfire
In college, I was a telemarketer. I had to ask hundreds of people why they chose to go to the University of Kentucky. 99.9% of the time, people explained that they picked UK because of basketball. Which is insane because none of these people played basketball at UK. Through my research, it seems like a Kentucky Basketball challenge is a requirement for Top Chef Kentucky.
I need to see Padma in Rupp Arena making some loose connection between Kentucky being the “greatest tradition in college basketball” and the contestants reclaiming an old food tradition of their own.
Or, better yet…
The contestants need to reconfigure some greasy sandwich at Wheeler’s Pharmacy and have Oscar Combs in his grumpy/charming manner judge the dish.
Or, better yet…
In Top Chef Denver, the governor of Colorado hosted a dinner party. I don’t foresee Matt Bevin making a guest appearance. It just wouldn’t feel right. However, I could totally see Coach Cal, the honorary Governor in our hearts, hosting a dinner party. If John Calipari judged a pasta challenge, I don’t think I could stand it.
Kentucky Derby Challenge!
The derby is often referred to as the “fastest two minutes in sports.” If I was a betting woman, I’d say that the mise en place relay will take place along some sort of two minute derby challenge. Contestants might have to create a dish based off of previous derby winners. (Perhaps, a mushy dish based off of “Real Quiet” or an avocado forward plate inspired by “California Chrome.”) Either way I guarantee that Padma will pull-off an avant-garde fascinator. I’m already preemptively jealous.
Mammoth Cave Challenge
Every season the chefs are taken to some extreme location. Chefs have had to battle sandy beaches, freezing temperatures and even an in-flight airplane challenge. In Kentucky, the best extreme location is most likely underground. I’m not sure how much the state park will allow, but Pinterest tells me there is a “snowball room” underground in Mammoth Caves. Here’s a free line for Padma to use if they do go underground, “Be careful chefs, because if you don’t season properly, we stalagMITE ask you to pack your knives and go.”
Fried Chicken Challenge
I need Reba McEntire dressed as the female Colonel Sanders to be the guest judge.
Four Course Bourbon Meal
It is highly likely that the show will visit one of the many distilleries in Kentucky, but the question is which one? And what evil challenge will the producers devise for the chef contestants? Will they have to create a soup, appetizer, entree and dessert using bourbon? Because I’m totally into that. Will they have to add corn, barley or rye to their plates? Because that sounds bland. Will they have to roll their ingredients in those barrels to and from locations at the distillery? Because that sounds like torture and amazing.
Louisville Slugger Museum
Free line for Padma to use, “Be careful chefs, because if you don’t knock it out of the park, we might ask you to pack your knives and go.”
The Stephen Foster Story
Odds: Long Shot
In my dream challenge, the contestants would take a day trip to Bardstown, Kentucky in their Rav4s, or their BMWs or their Lexus hybrids or Hidden Valley ranch packets and only be allowed to use primitive kitchen tools from the 1800s. Contestants would have to prepare the food in a cabin that looks like Lincoln’s birth cabin (but not the real one to preserve its integrity) and they would serve the food to a panel in authentic outfits. Padma would look amazing in a hoop skirt and Tom would look so bothered. It would be a ratings bonanza.
Note to Bravo people! I can definitely keep a secret! Feel free to cast me as one of the local yokels in the background. I too have a great palate for identifying under seasoned dishes and overcooked risotto. I don’t want to brag, but I recently built up a tolerance to kale or whatever is the new “it” food.