Kentucky’s culinary champs have a long history of creating compelling food television. No one would know this better than Top Chef’s Bravo execs, who announced that Season 16 of the hit series will begin filming this Spring in the bluegrass state, including stops in Lexington, Louisville, and Lake Cumberland.
In 2011, Louisville’s Chef Edward Lee frustrated with only making it as far as the second-chance bubble round in the season premiere of Top Chef Texas, got serious in episode two, telling the camera “if they leave me here in the stew room long enough, I’m gonna kill the other five people to get that jacket. That’s how bad I want it.”
(He looked like he might kill and eat them. Which would have made for an awesome Peter Greenaway-inspired Quick Fire Challenge. #TeamEd)
Midway through that episode, he reinforced his commitment when he sliced open his hand, and kept cooking — with a medic working on one hand while he prepped with the other. It was a gusher. Real Dan Akroyd as Julia Child material. But he just gloved up and kept going. (Take that Jamie Lauren! Inferior Top Chef All-Star contestant who abandoned her teammates to get stitches for a little nick.) If that duck looked suspiciously juicy, well… he earned the Jacket and that’s what counts.
Lee had already reigned supreme in 2010 when he bested Jose Garces on Iron Chef. In 2011, he advanced to the final rounds of Top Chef Texas. Louisville’s Ashley Holt won TLC’s Next Great Baker, and even though Lexington’s James Brown’s only made it a few rounds before withdrawing from the competition to undergo brain surgery, he remained a fan favorite.
Louisville’s Damaris Phillips charmed Food Network audiences when she announced “I am from Kentucky. And I like to drink,” on Season 9 of Food Network Star, cruising to the grand prize and landing her own show, Southern at Heart (which premiered in October of 2013).
Lexington chef Lucy Seo made her television debut on the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, hosted by Guy Fieri. Lexington Diner’s Ranada Riley also appeared on Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Grocery Games and later Cutthroat Kitchen.
Have what it takes to survive the stew room and make it to the finale? Here’s the schedule for Top Chef’s Season 16 casting calls.
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