Minnesotans are getting represented very well on this season of “Top Chef,” thanks to contestant Justin Sutherland. To any outsiders watching, they would know we’re into lakes, boats and Prince. That’s pretty spot-on, I’d say.
In this week’s episode, the remaining eight contestants drive to Nashville to cook at the Grand Ole Opry for musician Hunter Hayes in the Quickfire Challenge. Sutherland, of St. Paul’s Handsome Hog, makes skirt steak salad and isn’t the best or worst.
But during the cooking chitchat, we learn that Sutherland is a secret country-music fan.
“I only listen to it when I’m in the car by myself,” he says.
Not a country fan? Don’t hate on him.
In the Elimination Challenge, the contestants have to create a dish inspired by a music memory, and Sutherland immediately claims our state’s pride and joy, Prince.
“Big Prince guy,” he says. “Gonna do a little ‘Purple Rain.’ ”
And that, naturally, means purple food. Sutherland puts together New York strip with braised red cabbage, beet potato dumpling and purple pearl onion.
“I’ve never cooked dumplings in beet juice,” he admits, but hopes to stain his gnocchi to Prince’s favorite hue.
According to the judges, it’s pretty good! But poor Sutherland plated one dish too few. He never meant to cause the judges any sorrow, but unfortunately, he’s now ineligible to win the challenge.
Still, the Purple One’s inspiration lands him in the top three, and guest judge, chef Jonathan Waxman, says the meat is cooked “perfectly. It was the right umami flavor.”
I only want to see you laughing in a purple win, Justin, but we’ll have to wait for next week.