‘Top Chef’ Kentucky goes country and we hear the magic words: ‘Best dish all season’

“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi rocks a denim jumpsuit for her country look as the chefs head to Nashville. The immunity challenge takes place on the Grand Old Opry stage.
“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi rocks a denim jumpsuit for her country look as the chefs head to Nashville. The immunity challenge takes place on the Grand Old Opry stage. David Moir/Bravo

With this polar vortex sitting on top of us, now seems like a good time for a road trip. At least a vicarious one. And “Top Chef” Kentucky is ready to help. This week’s episode is taking the show on the road to Nashville, land of hot chicken.

Surely some will be eaten? That ought to warm us up. (If you are new to hot chicken, here’s a primer.)

After Brian was booted last week, eight chefs remain and they are down to have some fun.

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For episode nine, chefs Sara Bradley, Eddie Konrad, Kelsey Barnard and Eric Adjepong and the rest are in Nashville, where they will be cooking meals based on their favorite songs. This should be fun. Bravo David Moir/Bravo

Most excited, at least in the preview snippet: Kelsey, who won last week’s challenge with her Alabama oysters. Riding a victory, she is excited to be at the Grand Ole Opry. It looks like the immunity challenge will be an interesting one: Make a breakfast, lunch or dinner dish based on a musician’s “rider” stating what the musician wants backstage to eat.

That could be fun. Host Padma Lakshmi says they won’t find out who the musician is until after they make the dish, but the teaser last week let us in on the mystery: It’s country music star Hunter Hayes.

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For the “Music City USA” episode of “Top Chef” Kentucky, we see Padma Lakshmi and singer Hunter Hayes sampling dishes made from his “rider” by chefs Michelle Minori, Sara Bradley and Eddie Konrad. Bravo David Moir/Bravo

But what does Hunter “I Want Crazy” like? Will it be something weird or is he meat and potatoes? Whatever it is, looks like they have to cook it right there on the stage of the Grand Old Opry.

Which seems to be making Kelsey happy, if nobody else.

Speaking of Kelsey, she put her recipe for the popular Key Lime Crunch on her Instagram! Go get it, make it and you can feel like you’re at your own boat party. Which could get you through the rest of this cold spell, right?

For the elimination challenge, looks like the judges have to make a meal inspired by the favorite songs. From the preview, looks like Eric is going with Biggie Smalls’ “Big Poppa” with a play on steak, cheese eggs and grape. Justin is doing a take on Prince’s “Purple Rain” with beets for purple gnocchi and red cabbage. Michelle says she’s going with a dish inspired by a Beatles’ song. Whatever it is, we know from the end of last week’s episode that it gets her (and the judges, apparently) emotional.

Guest judges also will include Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon and his wife, model Lily Aldridge, and restaurateur Jonathan Waxman who opened Adele’s in Nashville..

The big tease for this episode: What will be the dish that Tom declares the best one they’ve had all season?

And who will be the chef sent to “Last Chance Kitchen?” Last week, Brian and Brandon went head to head in a really tricky challenge. They had to make a dish from the parts of the pig nobody really wants and make it something head judge Tom Colicchio likes. Tom is pleasantly surprised by what they come up with but in the end decides that Brandon’s pulled pork trotters and fried ears beat out Brian’s crispy pig ears and tails in a puttanesca sauce.

Tune in to “Top Chef” on Bravo at 8 p.m. “Last Chance Kitchen” is available online.

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.