‘Top Chef’ contestant Sara Bradley reaches finals with Chinese-inspired matzah ball soup


(JTA) — Chef Sara Bradley of Kentucky reached the finals of Bravo’s “Top Chef” by making matzah ball soup with native ingredients while filming in Macau.

Host Padma Lakshmi encouraged the four semifinalists to “Look to your own heritage and make a dish reflective of that but with Chinese ingredients.”

As a bonus, the semifinalists were joined by a parent or a sibling to help them meet the challenge. Bradley’s mom, Bebe, made the trip and gave her daughter some Jewish mother cooking tips.

Bradley made a quintessentially Jewish meal of chicken thighs with matzah balls in savory mushroom consomme. The matzah meal, made from a native cracker, pleased the judges.

And Bebe shared her secret tip to lighter matzah balls: club soda.

“Sara did Kentucky so proud,” Lakshmi told mom.

Judge Abe Conlon said that Bradley’s food “brought heritage and local ingredients into a harmonious dish.”

Bradley grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, and “Sara’s Jewish mother and Appalachian father exposed her to a wonderful culinary upbringing,” according to her bio on the Bravo Channel website. She is now the chef and proprietor at freight house, a unique Southern-inspired restaurant and bourbon bar in her hometown. She noted in a recent Facebook post that she attended Camp Ben Frankel in Carbondale, Illinois.

The “Top Chef” finals will air Thursday night.

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