Since winning the MasterChef cook-off, Kelsey Murphy, who lives in Fishers, has traveled the country performing in person or promoting the show’s cookware line.
Most recently, she appeared at a homewares show in Chicago, which also featured Martha Stewart, and was covered by TV shopping networks QVC and HSN.
But Murphy, 33, will be staying home for a while; The newly minted celebrity is opening a food counter at Fishers Test Kitchen.
“If all goes well, I could have a full-fledged restaurant at Fishers,” Murphy said.
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Inspo, short for inspiration, opens March 28 with eight menu items, including lobster rolls, Asian chicken wings, jambalaya, and mac and cheese, plus a few desserts.
But guests shouldn’t expect to see any of the dishes that made Kelsey the televised competition champion, like duck breast with crispy skin and honey-nut puree.
“I wanted to make the food more accessible than what I did on the show,” Murphy said. “It’s a small selection of things I love.”
Murphy’s approval to open a space in the test kitchen came about by accident when she asked the city if she could use the kitchen display area for a photo shoot.
Greg Howe, who is a consultant for Test Kitchen along with restaurateur and chef Neal Brown, suggested she open a shop at one of the three stands.
“He opened it and I was like ‘why not’?” said Murphy.
The Test Kitchen is a culinary accelerator in the Fishers District, a restaurant and grocery store development at 116th Street off Interstate 69. A rotating roster of aspiring restaurant owners operates three grocery counters for 18 months. The intent is to provide them with the business and culinary experience they need to open their own store, preferably in Fishers, to increase the number of local restaurants in On site.
“I’ve been to the Fishers District several times and knew all about it,” Murphy said. “I had seen the deficit in the culinary scene at Fishers and knew this was a way to improve it.”
Murphy took a crash course with Howe to learn the business side of restaurant ownership, such as how to own a restaurant. B. Ordering supplies, managing inventory and keeping a payroll.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have a lot of people who help me,” Murphy said. “It was an invaluable experience.”
Fishers spokeswoman Ashley Elrod said the presence of a TV celebrity in the Test Kitchen will certainly add some pizzazz to the venue.
“This is more than we could have hoped for and it gives her a chance to give back to the community,” said Elrod.
Murphy said her menu would change over time, based in part on what’s most popular, what’s seasonal, and what she likes. Growing up in Chicago, with an Italian mother and Polish father, she was exposed to diverse ethnic foods, including in her own home.
“My cooking has Italian roots, making pizza dough and things like that,” Murphy said. A possibility for inspo later is “Pasta Sunday”.
Murphy cooked up 14 competitors to be crowned MasterChef in the show’s 11th season and prepared 20 dishes over the course of several months. Murphy, a physical therapist and home cook, said she learned many of these cooking techniques from watching Food Network shows starring chefs like Ina Gardner and Brooke Williamson.
To make room for inspo, Queenie’s French Bread Pizza will be moving out of the test kitchen. That leaves Gordito’s, a taco joint, and One Trick Pony, a hamburger joint operated by Brown.
Call IndyStar reporter John Tuohy at 317-444-6418. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter and Facebook.