A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bravo’s Top Chef Kentucky, Season 16, begins tonight; check out state’s great culinary heritage

Bravo’s “Top Chef” heads to Kentucky for season 16 kicking off with two weeks of supersized premieres beginning this Thursday, December 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.  

Commissioner Kristen Branscum with the Kentucky Department of Tourism has this to say about the upcoming season:

“Kentucky’s culinary heritage is one of our state’s richest assets and what better medium to amplify this story than on an awarding-winning television show that has been a foodie favorite for 15 seasons,” said Commissioner Kristen Branscum with the Kentucky Department of Tourism. “I hope everyone tunes in this Thursday as we look forward to not only showcasing our food scene, but also the natural beauty, one-of-a-kind attractions and especially the talented Kentuckians that will be featured.” 

John Calipari on Top Chef Kentucky

This season, 15 new talented chefs from cities big and small across the U.S. will compete for the sought-after title amid the unique culinary scenes in Louisville, Lexington, and Lake Cumberland, before heading abroad for an epic finale showdown in Macau, China.

The Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series returns with host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, Nilou Motamed and Gail Simmons.

For a sneak peek, please visit this website.

Meet the New Cheftestants:

• Eric Adjepong – Washington, DC 
• Sara Bradley – Paducah, KY
• Kelsey Barnard Clark – Dothan, AL
• Edmund “Eddie” Konrad – Philadelphia, PA
• Pablo Lamon – Miami Beach, FL
• Natalie Maronski – Philadelphia, PA
• Michelle Minori – San Francisco, CA
• Nini Nguyen – Brooklyn, NY
• Brandon Rosen – San Mateo, CA
• Kevin Scharpf – Dubuque, IA
• Caitlin Steininger – Cincinnati, OH
• Justin Sutherland – St. Paul, MN
• David Viana – Asbury Park, NJ
• Adrienne Wright – Boston, MA
• Brian Young – Boston, MA 

For more information on the cheftestants, please visit this website.

Padma and Tom continue to keep the chefs on their game with an exciting season full of curveballs, double eliminations and the earliest and first ever three team Restaurant Wars. 

The cheftestants work to impress the judges and notable guests as they bet it all at Kentucky’s famous racetracks, Churchill Downs and Keeneland, cook for Laila Ali at the Muhammad Ali Center, and compete in a buzzer beater showdown for roaring fans at the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena with Hall of Famer, Coach Calipari. 

At Maker’s Mark’s iconic bourbon distillery, the chefs celebrate two Kentucky mainstays as they are tasked with putting their spin on classic dishes including burgoo, Benedictine, hoecakes and dumplings.

Competing

In addition, the blindfold taste test is back as the chefs must identify a variety of herbs and spices for a KFC-inspired Quickfire.  

Emmy-Award Winner Lena Waithe is on hand for a Quickfire challenge reimagining the Hot Brown and “Below Deck’s” Captain Lee Rosbach and Captain Sandy Yawn join the cheftestants for a houseboat challenge in Lake Cumberland.  Embarking on a road trip to Nashville, the chefs hit the Grand Ole Opry stage dishing up delectable delights to musicians Hunter Hayes and Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, along with his wife, model Lily Aldridge. And for the first time ever, the chefs grow their own produce and must use their harvests in one of the final Kentucky challenges. The top five chefs then travel to Macau, China, to the heart of fusion-food, to battle it out for the title of “Top Chef.”  
 
Throughout the season, the chefs will serve culinary stars including Emeril Lagassé, Eric Ripert, Jonathan Waxman, Art Smith, Nancy Silverton, Richard Blais, Brooke Williamson, Nina Compton, Karen Akunowicz, Annie Pettry, Caroline Styne, Sean Brock, Tandy Wilson, Dario Cecchini, Ken Oringer and Abraham Conlon.

Also lending their expertise are acclaimed Kentucky chefs Ouita Michel, Ed Lee, Newman Miller, David Danielson, and Kathy Cary.
  
The winning chef will earn the coveted title of “Top Chef” along with $125,000 furnished by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, a feature in FOOD & WINE magazine and an appearance at the annual FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, as well as a $50,000 prizing package from Williams Sonoma and a headlining slot on the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage at BottleRock in Napa Valley.

This season, cheftestants will drive the first ever BMW X2 Sports Activity Vehicle as they compete in challenges. Louisville based company Monogram is also a season-long partner of the show and outfitted the “Top Chef” kitchen and the cast house with the brand’s appliances.

“Top Chef” is produced by the Emmy Award-winning Magical Elves with Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Casey Kriley, Doneen Arquines and Tara Siener serving as executive producers. 

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