What to Expect from the Premiere of 'Top Chef' Season 16 in Kentucky
Top Chef is back and off to the races (literally) in tonight’s premiere of the 16th season. Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, Gail Simmons, Nilou Motamed, and a slew of guest judges will be tasting and judging as 15 brand new cheftestants cook their way through a series of challenges in Kentucky.
Competing this season are:
- Eric Adjepong - Washington, DC
- Sara Bradley - Paducah, Kentucky
- Kelsey Barnard Clark - Dothan, Alabama
- Edmund "Eddie" Konrad - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Pablo Lamon - Miami Beach, Florida
- Natalie Maronski - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Michelle Minori - San Francisco, California
- Nini Nguyen - Brooklyn, New York
- Brandon Rosen - San Mateo, California
- Kevin Scharpf - Dubuque, Iowa
- Caitlin Steininger - Cincinnati, Ohio
- Justin Sutherland - St. Paul, Minnesota
- David Viana - Asbury Park, New Jersey
- Adrienne Wright - Boston, Massachusetts
- Brian Young - Boston, Massachusetts
Season 16's host
The season starts at one of the state’s most famous landmarks, Churchill Downs, where thousands of people descend every year for the Kentucky Derby. The cheftestants are thrown directly into the fire with a Quickfire challenge that requires them to work in teams of three to create a cohesive dish. They have two minutes to prep ingredients and then their knives will be taken away and they’ll have to cook whatever they’ve prepared in that time. In addition to planning, communication will be key in this challenge.
This season’s crop of chefs seems to be a talented bunch with no one having a full-out panic attack. “Everyone is rocking it,” says chef Kelsey Barnard Clark says. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing because it means this competition is going to be fierce,” she continues.
Later at the first Elimination Challenge, the chefs are cooking for a Kentucky Derby party at The Henry Clay similar to the celebrations that spill out into the streets of Louisville in the hours after the famous horse race. Cooking at the venue and the fact that the chefs have to cook for so many people at once creates more than a few hiccups for some of the chefs. And, of course, one of the chefs serving the judge’s least favorite dish will be going home.
But they will have a chance to return! This season will have Last Chance Kitchen, an opportunity for the eliminated chef to reenter the competition down the line.