“Top Chef,” the Kentucky season, has released the first trailer and food fans already are going nuts.
Kentucky tourism commissioner Kristen Branscum said it went live as she was driving across the state Thursday and she had to pull over and not just to watch.
“I had to pull over and cry,” Branscum said. ”I knew they would do a great job but I was over the moon. When they said ‘Top Chef Kentucky’ at the end, I lost it. ... I had goosebumps. “
Filming of the popular Bravo cooking competition show started in Kentucky in May and continued for several weeks in various locations throughout the state including Lexington, Louisville and Lake Cumberland. The season will debut Dec. 6 at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
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Let’s break down what we learned from that action-packed preview:
▪ The contestants include one chef from Kentucky: Sara Bradley of Freight House in Paducah. “I’m the Kentucky girl,” Bradley says. “I”d like to win it for my state.”
▪ The season will include scenes at Churchill Downs, where we host Padma Lakshmi say, “Welcome to Louisville, Kentucky!” as the cheftestants walk in through the tunnel under the famous Twin Spires.
▪ They will cook with bourbon; one in particular, Maker’s Mark, is shown in a scene with flames.
▪ They will go back to the Twenties; in one scene, people descend the grand staircase in Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel looking flapper and dapper.
▪ Padma, at least, visits Keeneland; in the trailer she’s in the track’s walking ring, with racehorses and jockeys in the background.
▪ Things get messy: in at least one scene, food ends up on the floor.
▪ There will be houseboats; cheftestants are shown partying and sliding into Lake Cumberland.
▪ And Coach Cal and Rupp Arena make appearances; a contestant is seen throwing food to a Wildcat blue-wearing crowd. Guest judges will include chef Emeril Legasse, country singer Hunter Hayes, and, yes, UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari.
▪ And then probably the biggest surprise of all for fans: The season’s finale takes place not in Kentucky but in Macau, China.
The 16th season will include host Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and judges Graham Elliot, and Nilou Motamed with a very pregnant Gail Simmons featured in a cameo in the preview.
The other contestants are Eric Adjepong of Washington, D.C.; Kelsey Barnard Clark of Dothan, Ala.; Edmund “Eddie” Konrad of Philadelphia; Pablo Lamon of Miami Beach, Fla.; Natalie Maronski of Philadelphia; Michelle Minori of San Francisco; Nini Nguyen of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Brandon Rosen of San Mateo, Calif.; Kevin Scharpf of Dubuque, Iowa; Caitlin Steininger of Cincinnati; Justin Sutherland of St. Paul, Minn.; David Viana of Asbury Park, N.J.; Adrienne Wright of Boston; and Brian Young of Boston.
Stay tuned for more “Top Chef” Kentucky coverage as the season begins; Kentucky.com will have backstage coverage of the first-ever three team Restaurant Wars and much more.
According to Bravo, the challenges include cooking for Laila Ali at the Muhammad Ali Center.
At Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, they will put their spin on classic Kentucky dishes including burgoo, Benedictin, hoe cakes and dumplings.
And in a blindfold taste test, the chefs “must identify a variety of herbs and spices for a KFC-inspired Quickfire,” according to the release.
Kentucky chefs including Ed Lee, Ouita Michel, Newman Miller, David Danielson and Kathy Cary will make appearances as well as many other culinary stars.
The winning chef gets the coveted “Top Chef” title, $125,000, a feature in “Food & Wine” magazine and much more.
The show last season averaged more than 2 million viewers and is the number one most affluent ad-supported cable entertainment program this year to date, according to Bravo, which means it will bring tremendous recognition to the state regardless of who wins.