Watching television cooking shows tend to give the everyday American inspiration, whether it’s inspiration to travel, cook or eat whatever food they’re seeing. But very rarely does having Food Network perpetually on television during your college years push one to change career paths.
For Kelsey Murphy, it did all that and more.
Originally from Chicago, Murphy met her husband, Brandon, while attending Indiana University (and binging Food Network). The two both graduated with degrees in physical therapy, and Murphy would come home from work every day and cook to unwind.
“I became a food television junkie and just absorbed everything I could from watching Food Network,” she says. “When I’d come home from work, all I wanted to do was be in the kitchen. That was my way of relaxing.”
Murphy and her family became devoted fans of Fox’s MasterChef reality competition show where amateur chefs compete in a series of cooking challenges, surviving eliminations and learning under a panel of esteemed chefs. After the tenth season completed, Murphy saw a call-out for the show and she was encouraged by her family to apply. What was initially thought as silly turned into a long, intense process that included numerous interviews, questionnaires and background checks.
Murphy headed west to start taping the show in February 2020, where the cast cooked and competed until March 17, when taping (and the entire world) shut down for the global pandemic. Murphy and the others were sent home with instructions to keep quiet about the show and follow along with the show’s culinary team as they worked to continue fine-tuning their skills in their home kitchens. Seven months later, the cast and Murphy returned to finish taping.
“By the time we went back to taping, I was 25 weeks pregnant, and it was by far my hardest pregnancy,” says Murphy. She competed with her own sous chef along for the ride.
When the finale was being taped, Murphy had to serve a four-course dinner. By the final course, she knew that if she could just plate the dessert, she would have the win in the bag.
“That dish was something that I had worked very hard on, and it was very touch-n-go if I was even going to be able to accomplish it,” she says. “When they announced I was the winner, it was more of a sense of relief because of the amount of stress I had put on myself, as well as my family to be able to go out and do this. It was a relief that I had actually gone out and accomplished something for not only me, but for my family.”
Now the mother to three boys (5-year-old Aniston, 3-year-old Maddox and 1-year-old Lucas) is not only a MasterChef, but a restauranteur. Murphy has spent the time since her win to focus on how she wanted to share her love of cooking with the Fishers community.
“The win inspired me to really pursue cooking as a career,” she says. “It was an opportunity you can’t pass up — I felt like I could at least just try because I had a wonderful physical therapy career to fall back on, but hopefully not.”
Murphy did research as to what direction she wanted to go in for her restaurant, who to work with and what to not do. She knew that since she didn’t have any real “street cred” in the culinary world, besides as a competition show winner, she needed to do things right.
Recently she opened her restaurant, suitably named “Inspo” as part of the Fishers Test Kitchen.
“I wanted the restaurant to really represent the things that I love and the things that have inspired me on my journey to where I am now,” she says. “For example, there’s ceviche on the menu, I feel like that was one moment when I was traveling and I had my first taste of that and it was like ‘Wow.’ Just the taste of it was something I could eat all the time. So, I thought if I was going to have my own restaurant why not put in on the menu because it’s something I love and could eat all the time and, two, I think it’s something other people will love and you can’t find it often.”
Murphy is grateful for the group at the Fishers Test Kitchen for helping her learn the ropes to being not only in the restaurant business but working and leading a restaurant. She hopes to use this time at the test kitchen to expand her knowledge and continue to bring her inspiration to the community.
“I’m really trying to bring elevated food to Fishers,” Murphy says. “I want to give people more diverse options, more options that are brought from local entrepreneurs. I want to get people into the elevated food scene but while teaching people that food doesn’t have to be weird or stuffy to be elevated. I really want to step people into that genre, and I think there’s such a market here and there are so many transplants from across the country now moving to Fishers, but I think people are very ready and willing to step into that scene. I’m hoping to be the start of that movement, and I hope to put Fishers on the map in terms of the culinary world. I feel like we’ve grown so much to be a desirable city for families and young people, and I think with that we have to build the food scene.”
To dive into Chef Murphy’s inspirational food, stop by the Fishers Test Kitchen, located at the Fishers District at 9713 District North Drive. You can also view selections online at fisherstestkitchen.com/the-food/.