The reality cooking competition is heading south.

Adam Campbell-Schmitt
February 14, 2018

We’re not even done with season 15 of Top Chef, but Bravo’s ultimate culinary competition is already looking toward its next iteration. While the cheftestants on the Colorado season are headed to battle it out in Telluride and, ultimately, Aspen, the network announced today that the series will be taking a turn southward. The location? Kentucky.

Specifically, season 16 of Top Chef will take place in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland, Kentucky in a season that’s set to air later in 2018. Filming is scheduled to begin this spring, while the cast is, of course, yet to be determined as applications are currently being accepted.

Kentucky is an ideal locale to showcase the region’s cuisine and homegrown products. Beyond bourbon, biscuits, and Hot Browns, there are country hams, sorghum, fried chicken, burgoo, and mutton on the menu, not to mention a growing and thriving restaurant scene, the food and drink-filled Kentucky Derby, and even haunted distilleries (maybe as a sequel to season 15’s The Shining challenge?).

Bravo Media's executive vice president of current production Shari Levine echoed that sentiment in a statement, saying, “We are always looking for rising culinary destinations and are looking forward to planting our flag in Kentucky and soaking up a diverse region of the country that we haven’t yet explored on Top Chef." Levine went on to say the state has "a strong food identity and we know our incoming chefs will be inspired by the burgeoning culinary scene, known for its innovative takes on Southern cuisine, melding flavors and use of Kentucky’s agricultural bounty.”

The announcement was made jointly with the Kentucky Department of Tourism, whose commissioner Kristen Branscum added, “Kentucky is internationally known for its bourbon and horses, but our rich culinary culture is an unexpected, hidden gem.  Our robust agricultural offerings and unique approach to food in every region of the state, combined with Kentucky’s natural outdoor beauty will surprise and delight the Top Chef viewers.” 

So while the Top Chef team is interviewing the next batch of future all-stars and figuring out how they’ll challenge the chefs to make the most of Kentucky’s rich culinary culture, we’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what season 16 has in store. May we suggest an Ale-8-One Quickfire?

Top Chef" Season 15 airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Bravo and the current season of "Last Chance Kitchen" streams weekly on BravoTV.com.