Season 16 will take place in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland.
step and repeat background and top chef panel
Credit: Courtesy of Gianna M Bertoli / Michael Priest Photography

As Southern chefs and cuisine gain increasing national recognition, it’s no surprise that Bravo’s Top Chef will film its upcoming season 16 in Kentucky. The news was just announced Thursday, and production will start sometime this spring, with a premiere date for later this year. (Four episodes remain of the current season, set in Colorado.)

“Kentucky 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," said Shari Levine, EVP of Current Production at Bravo Media, in a statement.

Top Chef has gone to smaller cities in recent years, including Charleston, South Carolina for Season 14. As previous seasons have already been set in coastal metropolises like Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, it seems the series is working its way geographically inward. Spread over a few cities, season 16 of Top Chef will take place in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland, Kentucky and will hopefully highlight the local bounty (and distinctive dishes) of each area.

Kentucky dining has had its fair share of national recognition in recent years, as the state is becoming one of the most interesting places to eat in the country. On this year’s list of James Beard Award semifinalists are Drew Kulsveen of Willett Distillery, nominated in the category Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. Chef Paco Garcia of Con Huevos! is also nominated in the Best Chef category. Although not nominated this year, chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia and Milkwood in Louisville has been a nominee for the past nine years.

Kentucky is pushing the culinary envelope beyond bourbon distilleries. When it comes to food, “Southern” can be an overly broad term, grouping together large swaths of nuanced culture under one umbrella of biscuits and fried chicken. With Top Chef’s upcoming season, we’re looking forward to exploring the state’s regional nuances. Because in Kentucky, even the gas station sausage is world-class.

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