When above Chicago chef Sara Bradley heard “Top Chef” would be filming its new division in her built-in Kentucky, she capital a allotment of the action.
Bradley, a active best of Kentucky cuisine, got what she wanted.
The 36-year-old chef is the sole adversary from the Bluegrass State, one of 15 competitors duking it out on Division 16 of television’s Emmy Award-winning affable competition, debuting Dec. 6 on Bravo.
“I capital to represent the activity and the ability that’s accident in the aliment arena in Kentucky appropriate now,” said Bradley, who opened Freight House, her acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, in Paducah, Ky., three years ago.
Before ablution Freight House, Bradley acid her abilities alive for the brand of John Fraser at Dovetail in New York and Chicago’s abounding chef-restaurateur Paul Kahan at Avec, Blackbird, Nico Osteria and Publican Quality Meats. Like added alleged boomerangs, Bradley took what she abstruse toiling in the kitchens of big-city, Michelin-starred restaurants and caked that ability and acquaintance into her own business aback home, in the far western alcove of Kentucky.
The aftereffect was Freight House, a dinner-only y housed in an old vegetable depot. The ache rafters, brick walls and apparent ductwork accomplish a aerial ambience for the 140-seat restaurant, area the bend bar is abounding with added than 300 bourbons, whiskeys and ryes. The artistic card focuses on fresh, melancholia capacity all sourced aural a day’s drive of Paducah (pah-DOO-kah), an artsy, beach boondocks of 25,000, aloof beneath the southern tip of Illinois.
“I absolutely capital to be on (“Top Chef”) to advertise my end of the state,” Bradley said, throwing a tiny bit of adumbration in the administration of Louisville and Lexington. “Western Kentucky sometimes doesn’t get the adulation that axial Kentucky does.”
One of the best accepted dishes at Freight House is Kentucky argent carp, aka Asian carp, an invasive breed that Bradley is appreciative to serve, both from an ecology and a gastronomic standpoint. She gussies up the balmy white angle with broiled candied tomatoes, lima beans, cornbread croutons and beginning herbs ($21).
Five bucks will get you a basin of addictively brittle pork rinds allurement to booty a ablution in the accompanying lemon-thyme aioli. Added starters accommodate sinfully acceptable deviled eggs ($5) and ambrosial beer cheese ($9), a Kentucky staple.
“My appearance of affable is Southern but additionally has a lot of Midwest influence,” Bradley said. “That’s one of the amazing genitalia about Paducah. I could be in Illinois in bristles minutes. I can be in Missouri in 25. I’m aing to Tennessee. I can draw from all over the place. Our farmers bazaar isn’t aloof a Kentucky farmers market. We accept four, sometimes bristles states represented.”
Freight House is all about adult spins on abundance food, from country absurd steak with “whooped” cauliflower, sawmill gravy, aureate raisins and capers ($10) to braised pork accept with black-eyed peas, candied greens, fennel aioli and cornbread ($28).
Bradley’s mom, Bebe, doubles as the pastry chef, “whooping” up maple sorghum walnut pie and vanilla-frosted Freight House altogether block to bless three active years in business.
Freight House is apprenticed to get akin busier, acknowledgment to the “Top Chef” effect.
If you’re planning a cruise bottomward to Paducah — appealing abundant a beeline attempt from Chicago, 375 afar mostly bottomward Interstate 57 — accomplish a catch in advance, either online at freighthousefood.com or by calling 270-908-0006.
The restaurant, 330 S. Third St., opens at 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Bradley said she isn’t abiding area she’ll be aback the new division premieres at 8 p.m. Dec. 6.
“I haven’t absitively if I’m activity to watch it with my staff,” Bradley said, “or go home and watch it on the couch with a big bottle of bourbon.”
Inspired to analysis out Paducah? Here are Bradley’s recommendations for bisected a dozen added places to eat and alcohol in and about town:
533 Madison St.
Tucked abroad in one of Paducah’s oldest homes, the Greek Revival-style Smedley-Yeiser House, this comfortable lounge gets artistic with its ability cocktails. Sip on a smoked-sage mojito fabricated with mezcal or one of several gin-based concoctions. Like a lot of the newer establishments in town, this one is a activity of adulation from a husband-and-wife aggregation who salvaged an old, corrupt acreage and reinvented it into a modern, agitative amplitude — one that still pays admiration to its past.
728 U.S. Highway 62, Grand Rivers, Ky.
“It’s aloof a few account drive from Paducah, and it’s some of the best barbecue around,” Bradley said about this friendly, basic collective that alone takes banknote and checks; no acclaim cards. Accepted for its pulled pork (Bradley additionally address the brisket), Knoth’s has been about for added than bisected a century. The popular, family-run business was about to alarm it quits aftermost year when, at the aftermost minute, Paducahans Ed Musselman and Andy Wiggins hatched a plan to save it and backpack on the comestible tradition. As in years past, Knoth’s will booty the winter off. After Dec. 23, it won’t reopen afresh until March.
Pipers Tea and Coffee
3121 Broadway St.
This tea-blending and coffee-roasting operation is one of several businesses in an old Coca-Cola bottling ability accepted about boondocks as the Coke Plant. Pipers was started in 2012 by a brace whose aboriginal signature tea blend, Pipers Earl Grey, led the way for a accumulating of added than 20 hand-blended teas and specialty coffees. The brace opened their boutique in 2015 in the Coke Plant, area they added afresh accept opened a lab to alloy tea and buzz single-origin coffee beans on-site. Dec. 13-24 is Pipers’ third anniversary 12 Days of Hot Chocolate, area a different acidity is featured daily. This year’s theme: desserts.
Dry Arena Brewing Co.
3121 Broadway St.
Another aborigine of the Coke Plant, Paducah’s aboriginal ability brewery got off the arena in 2014. It has about 30 ability beers on tap, including 10 brewed in-house. Don’t absence the Preacher Pils, whose balm is declared as “fresh caked Kentucky lemonade with hints of beginning cut cantaloupe.”
2532 Jackson St.
This adjunct of the original, which opened in 1965 in Paxton, Ill., is accepted for its account specials, like the Guaking Dead, a bifold burger topped with pepper jack cheese, house-made guacamole, acerb chrism booze and Tapatio hot sauce. “You go in, and there’s abundant metal music playing,” Bradley said. “It’s a agglomeration of adolescent guys who accomplish the best hamburgers. They’ve consistently got some burger-of-the-week that’s aloof to die for. And they’ve got abundant T-shirts.”
Kirchhoff’s Bakery and Deli
118 Bazaar House Square
“They do a lot of our beginning breads,” Bradley said about this Freight House supplier. The bakery and cafeteria is a admired academy that dates to 1873. That’s aback Franz Kirchhoff, a Prussian immigrant, put his family’s Old World recipes to assignment in a wood-fired oven, affairs broiled appurtenances to association and riverboat travelers alike. The business went abeyant for a few decades but is aback in the able easily of the Kirchhoffs, who crank out a advanced ambit of breads, pastries, sandwiches, soups and salads.
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