‘Top Chef’ Kentucky: Where the chefs stand as they kick it off in Macau

Goodbye, Kentucky; hello, Macau! The final five “Top Chef” contestants are whisked to China for the finale of the season.

But, surprise! Some of their former competitors look like they are coming along to help the chefs bring their Asian cuisine dreams to life.

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It’s the “Holy Macau!” episode for “Top Chef” where, from left, Brandon Rosen, Brian Young, David Viana, Eddie Konrad, and Justin Sutherland showing up for the finale challenge involving Michelle Minori, Eric Adjepong, Kelsey Barnard, Sara Bradley and Adrienne Wright. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Here’s how we got here.

Heading into the finale, Kentucky Sara is riding high after her win with ham and soup beans in the Elimination challenge at the Brown Hotel. She’s peaking at the right time but there is a lot of tough competition still.

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Kentucky chef Sara Bradley serves judge Graham Elliot and head judge Tom Colicchio in the “Holy Macau!” finale. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Including Michelle, who fought her way back onto the show through “Last Chance Kitchen.” She won the Elimination in Nashville with the dish that head judge Tom Colicchio dubbed the best all season, so you know she can really cook. But she went out the very next week, after her ribs at Rupp just didn’t work.

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Guest chef Jowett Yu and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi with chef Michelle Minori in Macau. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Then there’s Eric, who has won three Elimination challenges (Ali, Rupp and the Prohibition cocktail party) largely with his African-influenced cooking. Will he be able to translate that into Asian cuisine and retain the flavor profile that’s brought him this far?

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“Top Chef” judge Graham Elliot and host Padma Lakshmi check out what chef Eric Adjepong is cooking in Macau. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

There’s Kelsey, the other Southern belle. At first, she seemed best at desserts but she won the houseboat party challenge on Lake Cumberland with her Alabama oysters and clearly knows her seafood, which could be a big advantage.

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Chef Brandon Rosen is helping chef Kelsey Barnard Clark, who is still in the competition, with her Chinese New Year dish in Macau. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

And lastly, Adrienne comes in as the only one who didn’t win an Elimination challenge, but she’s still a strong contender with serious plating and organizing skills, last week’s mess notwithstanding.

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Chef Adrienne Wright serving “top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi and guest judge Jowett Yu in Macau. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

We have a few clues about the episode, including a preview snippet that shows them working on their Quickfire challenge on a rooftop, working with some unusual ingredients like cuttlefish.

Sounds like they are using stuff from that wild market walk-through with judge Graham Elliot from the end of last week’s episode. (Please don’t make Padma eat lungs.)

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Chefs Adrienne Wright and Sara Bradley scope the ingredients with judge Graham Elliot and chefs Kelsey Barnard and Michelle Minori in Macau. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Also from the end of the episode, we had a few more teasers:

Padma nearly gagging and waiving hand: “If you were trying to burn my palate, you succeeded.”

Tom: “This could have been a contemporary dish from a young contemporary Chinese chef.”

Graham: “It was so soulful.”

Padma: “It felt a little muddy.” Followed by Eric: “Respectfully, I disagree.”

The longer preview clip features glimpses of several guest judges, including Jowett Yu of Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong, and Padma explaining they will be doing a Chinese New Year feast.

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Getting the party started in Macau: Guest judge chef Jowett Yu, host Padma Lakshmi, judge Graham Elliot and head judge Tom Colicchio toast. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

All of this sounds deliciously exciting ... too exciting to cram into one episode.

The Macau experience will actually stretch over three episodes, with the winner being determined on March 14. (Heads up, finale watch party planners.)

Stay tuned; “Top Chef” begins at 8 p.m. on Bravo.

Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business reporter who also has covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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