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‘Top Chef’ Kentucky: It’s the finale, and you can cut the tension with a knife

Ouita Michel to Sara Bradley: ‘It’s okay to be categorized as the Kentucky Chef’

Top Chef show judges Ouita Michel and Graham Elliot speak with Paducah contestant Sara Bradley on how it was to represent Kentucky in the Bravo TV show.
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Top Chef show judges Ouita Michel and Graham Elliot speak with Paducah contestant Sara Bradley on how it was to represent Kentucky in the Bravo TV show.

After defeating a dozen chefs over 13 episodes, it has come down to this: Three chefs, including Kentucky’s own Sara Bradley, scrabbling for two spots in the final cook-off.

Head judge Tom Colicchio told Sara, who won last week’s challenge, and Kelsey and Eric that even though they all three made it to the finale in Macau, only two get to cook “the meal of their lives,” as host Padma Lakshmi put it.

We don’t get many clues about how the judges will decide who gets cut in this last round.

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Kentucky’s Sara Bradley shops for who knows what with her eliminated teammates, including David Viana and Eddie Konrad, as she preps for the final competition. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Kelsey and Sara sound like they will be super mad if they’ve come all this way to leave, but who wouldn’t be?

Eric, apparently. He seems surprisingly chill.

We got a little glimpse of him saying that for his four-course finale, he’d do “the transatlantic slave trade.” Whew, that’s a lot to pack into four plates. I hope we get to see that.

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Looks like “Top Chef’s Eric Adjepong is doing some menu planning with his chef pals Justin Sutherland and Michelle Minori. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

And if anyone can do it, it’s Eric, who has wowed the judges, for the most part, with his African cuisine. There have been a few stumbles, especially in trying to create Chinese interpretations. (Gritty melon seeds, anyone?)

When ‘Top Chef’ Kentucky came to Rupp Arena, Coach John Calipari wasn’t excited about guest judging. Here’s what changed all that.

Meanwhile, Kelsey’s been hitting it out of the park with her layered Southern/Chinese creations, and now Sara’s hitting her stride too, with a similar Jewish/Chinese matzo ball soup.

In a preview, the final three had a night off to enjoy the sights and tastes of Macau and were living it up with egg tarts and whatever the heck a chicken cookie is. Meanwhile, Eric says he “truly” doesn’t care that Kelsey and Sara are “so tight” and he wants to win. So maybe he’s not so chill after all.

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The final three of Kelsey Barnard Clark, Sara Bradley and Eric Adjepong enjoy a night out in Macau before they get down to their final challenge to see who cooks in the finale. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Kelsey suggests he drink a lot and stay up all night, but she doesn’t sound threatened.

Here’s hoping that their close ties help them stay friends after the show because only one chef will be crowned “Top Chef,” right?

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“Top Chef” final three contestant Kelsey Barnard Clark strategizes with chefs Brandon Rosen and Nini Nguyen ahead of the final competition. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Many of the eliminated chefs (Nini!) will be returning for the final episode, too, possibly helping out with part of the challenge. Photos show them menu planning and shopping with the final three.

It looks like the judges for the final round will be a who’s who of Asian cuisine including Dan Hong, Mitsuharu Tsumura, Alvin Leung, Alexander Smalls and May Chow.

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The finale’s guest judges include a who’s-who of Asian cuisine including Dan Hong, Mitsuharu Tsumura, Alvin Leung, Alexander Smalls and May Chow, plus host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and judges Nilou Motamed and Graham Elliot. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

Which is why when we hear them say in the teaser that something is “one of the best dishes I’ve eaten this year,” it’s going to be a big deal.

But which chef will serve that special dish? Stay tuned; Bravo will air the supersized “Top Chef” finale Thursday at a new time: 9:30 to 11 p.m.

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“Top Chef” judge Nilou Motamed, host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Graham Elliot are going to name the winner of “Top Chef” Kentucky after a 90-minute show. Bravo Carmo Correia/Bravo

‘Top Chef’ contestant Sara Bradley, with judge Graham Elliot and guest judge Ouita Michel, on her win on the final episode filmed in Kentucky.

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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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