This year's crop of honorees – Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean – all chowed down on a feast prepared by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard prior to the show, which airs Tuesday (9 p.m. ET on CMT).
"For the dinner, I wanted to show my style of cooking but have influence from the artists and Nashville," Izard told PEOPLE of the three-course meal, complete with wine pairings. (See the full menu below.)
Using notes from each musician, the Top Chef winner created a meal tailor-made for the stars.
"Taylor Swift loves sausage and gravy from Cracker Barrel, so we did mini biscuits with goat and pork gravy," Izard, who owns the Chicago restaurant the Girl & the Goat, said. (She also personally met Swift because, Izard explains, "All of the young guys that work for me would have been disappointed had I not!")
"Kenny Chesney mentioned [he liked] steak, well done," she says, "so I made a kitfo [African style beef tartare] to show how tasty it is raw, too."
"Brad Paisley mentioned lobster, so I made one of my favorite soups from [my cookbook] Girl in the Kitchen: roasted squash and brown butter soup topped with bourbon buttered lobster," she continued.
The artists also snacked on spiced shrimp, BBQ pork and Brussels sprouts slaw for appetizers.
For the main course, the stars enjoyed coconut braised short rib and butternut squash kimchi, and dessert included butternut malasadas and brown butter apples with bourbon gelato.
But for Izard, the highlight of the night wasn't even her food. "[I loved] getting to sit in the audience for the show. The performances were all great."