|Top Chef: Kentucky|
|Hosted by||Padma Lakshmi|
|No. of contestants||18|
|Winner||Kelsey Barnard Clark|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Original release||December 6, 2018 –|
March 14, 2019
Top Chef: Kentucky is the sixteenth season of the American reality television series Top Chef. Initial details about the season and its cast were revealed on October 18, 2018. The competition was filmed at various locations in Kentucky, including Louisville, Lexington, and Lake Cumberland. The season finale took place in Macau, China. Padma Lakshmi returned as host, with Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, and Nilou Motamed forming the judging panel. Due to being on maternity leave for the majority of filming, Top Chef regular Gail Simmons did not appear as one of the main judges for the season. Top Chef: Kentucky premiered on December 6, 2018, and concluded on March 14, 2019. In the season finale, Kelsey Barnard Clark was declared the winner over runner-up Sara Bradley. Barnard Clark was also voted Fan Favorite.
Fifteen chefs were selected to compete in Top Chef: Kentucky. In addition, like the previous season, three returning competitors competed in the Last Chance Kitchen to earn the chance to join the competition: Top Chef: Colorado contestants Carrie Baird and Brother Luck, and Top Chef: Charleston contestant Jim Smith. Following the sixth episode of Last Chance Kitchen, Luck was selected to join the main cast.
|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|
Eric Adjepong and Nini Nguyen returned to compete in Top Chef: All-Stars L.A.
|Carrie Baird||Denver, Colorado||Season 15|
|Brother Luck||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Season 15|
|Jim Smith||Montgomery, Alabama||Season 14|
|Contestant||Elimination Challenge Results|
^Note 1 : The chef(s) did not receive immunity for winning the Quickfire Challenge.
^Note 2 : Following Episode 6 of Last Chance Kitchen, Brother was introduced as a regular competitor.
^Note 3 : Despite Justin making one of the judge's favourite dishes, he did not plate a sufficient number of dishes and was thus ineligible to win.
^Note 4 : As a reward for winning the Quickfire Challenge, Eddie did not have to compete in the Elimination Challenge.
^Note 5 : Michelle won Last Chance Kitchen and returned to the competition.
Main article: List of Top Chef episodes
|Title||Original air date|
|232||1||"The Fastest Two Minutes in Cooking"||December 6, 2018|
Quickfire Challenge: At Churchill Downs, the chefs, working in teams of three, were allotted two minutes to prep the ingredients for their dishes, in reference to the Kentucky Derby and its reputation as "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports." After two minutes, the contestants' knives were confiscated. The teams then had 20 minutes to complete their dishes. The winners each received two VIP tickets to the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs hosted a Kentucky Derby-themed party. Remaining in the same groups as the Quickfire Challenge, the contestants competed head-to-head against their own teammates. The chefs with the best dishes within their groups were eligible to win the challenge, while the worst ones were put up for elimination. The guest judge for the challenge was Churchill Downs' executive chef, David Danielson.
|233||2||"Bourbon, Barrels and Burgoo"||December 13, 2018|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to create dishes inspired by Gail Simmons' pregnancy cravings. The prepped ingredients for the top two dishes were then delivered to Gail in New York, where she cooked the meals herself and determined the winner. The winner received immunity from elimination.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs visited the Maker's Mark distillery. After their tour, the contestants were separated in two teams and challenged to put their own spin on classic Kentucky cuisine, such as burgoo, mutton, benedictine, spoonbread, and hoecakes. The winner received US$10,000. The guest judge for the challenge was Maker's Mark's in-house chef, Newman Miller.
|234||3||"Naughty and Nice"||December 20, 2018|
Quickfire Challenge: In a holiday-themed challenge, the chefs were given two minutes to shop in the pantry, placing their ingredients inside their assigned gift boxes. Once time expired, the contestants participated in a white elephant gift exchange, forcing them to conceptualize festive dishes using other people's ingredients. The winner received immunity from elimination. The guest judges for the challenge were Top Chef: Charleston winner Brooke Williamson and Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs enjoyed a feast in celebration of le Réveillon de Noël, a traditional French Christmas dinner. Afterwards, each chef was responsible for creating one of the thirteen desserts required to end the meal. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Éric Ripert.
|235||4||"Surprise...It's Restaurant Wars"||December 27, 2018|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs were tasked with creating an amuse-bouche. They were provided three options for plating, available on a first-come, first-served basis: a saucer, a ramekin, or a Chinese spoon. The winner received immunity from elimination. The guest judges for the challenge were Top Chef: New Orleans runner-up Nina Compton and Top Chef: California contestant Karen Akunowicz.
Elimination Challenge (Part 1): In a twist, the series' traditional Restaurant Wars challenge arrived early, instead of the halfway point in the competition. The contestants were also split into three teams, instead of two, based on the plating option they selected during the Quickfire Challenge. Per the usual rules, each team was responsible for transforming an empty space into a fully functioning pop-up restaurant. The guest judge for the challenge was restaurateur Caroline Styne.
|236||5||"Restaurant Wars Part 2"||January 3, 2019|
Elimination Challenge (Part 2): Continuing from the previous episode, the chefs served their meals and the results of Restaurant Wars were revealed. While an individual winner was declared, each member of the winning team received US$10,000. Two chefs were asked to leave the competition in a double-elimination.
|237||6||"Roaring Munchies"||January 10, 2019|
Elimination Challenge: The winner of Episode 6 of Last Chance Kitchen, Brother Luck, joined the competition. The chefs were then instructed to make canapés inspired by the flavors of Prohibition-era cocktails for a Roaring Twenties-style party, including the gin rickey, Southside Fizz, Old Fashioned, Last Word, whiskey sour, and Twelve-Mile Limit. As a reward for winning the Last Chance Kitchen team challenge, Adrienne, Brother, Brian, Eddie, Kelsey, and Sara were given first choice of cocktails. The party was held at the Seelbach Hotel's Rathskeller room. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Ken Oringer.
|238||7||"Carne!"||January 17, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs reimagined the Hot Brown; per the rules, their dishes had to include turkey, a sauce, and be plated in a skillet. The winner received immunity from elimination. The guest judge for the challenge was actress Lena Waithe.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were asked to create dishes using different cuts of beef and locally-sourced Kentucky ingredients. Cuts were assigned to the contestants via random knife draw. The guest judges for the challenge were chef Nancy Silverton and butcher Dario Cecchini. The winner received a signed apron from Cecchini and the opportunity to stage at his butcher shop, Antica Macelleria Cecchini, in Tuscany, Italy, for a week.
|239||8||"Whatever Floats Your Boat"||January 24, 2019|
Elimination Challenge: The chefs, separated into two teams, threw competing houseboat parties on Lake Cumberland for 100 guests. The guests then voted for their favorite party to determine the winner. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Emeril Lagasse.
|240||9||"Music City USA"||January 31, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs traveled to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, where they created dishes which satisfied the requests on their provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner riders. The winner received an advantage in the following Elimination Challenge. The guest judge for the challenge was country music singer Hunter Hayes.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs made dishes inspired by their favorite music memories. As a reward for winning the Quickfire Challenge, Adrienne was given an extra hour of cooking time. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Jonathan Waxman.
Note: At the end of the episode, the show paid tribute to the memory of Top Chef: Colorado contestant and Fan Favorite award recipient Fatima Ali, who passed away on January 25, 2019, after battling cancer.
|241||10||"Hoop Dreams"||February 7, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs returned to Kentucky and participated in a trivia challenge. The contestants had to work together to solve four riddles, each of which would lead them to an ingredient or kitchen tool with a number displayed on it. The four numbers were required to open the combination lock to a box containing bouillon cubes. Once the box was unlocked, the chefs had to make dishes using the bouillon cubes as their only seasoning. The winner received the distinct advantage of sitting out of the following Elimination Challenge, thus automatically advancing to the next round. The guest judge for the challenge was Top Chef: Texas contestant Edward Lee.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs, separated in two teams, competed in a head-to-head cook-off inside Rupp Arena. The first team to win two out of three rounds won the challenge. While an individual winner was declared, each member of the winning team received US$5,000. The guest judges for the challenge were Edward Lee, Food & Wine editor-in-chief Hunter Lewis, and University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.
|242||11||"The Greatest"||February 14, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs had to cook fried chicken using their own spice blends; however, in order to obtain their spices, the contestants first had to correctly identify them through a blindfolded taste test. The winner received US$5,000. Beginning with this challenge, immunity from elimination was no longer available as a reward. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Art Smith.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs planned a progressive meal for a charity benefit at the Muhammad Ali Center in honor of professional boxer and philanthropist Muhammad Ali. Each chef was responsible for one of six courses, which were inspired by fights from Ali's boxing career: The Fight at Freedom Hall, Liston Two, Fight of the Century, Rumble in the Jungle, Thrilla in Manila, and The Battle of New Orleans. The guest judge for the challenge was professional boxer Laila Ali.
|243||12||"Kentucky Farewell"||February 21, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The winner of Last Chance Kitchen, Michelle, rejoined the cast. The chefs harvested their gardens, which were planted at the beginning of the competition, and were tasked with making garden-forward dishes. The winner received US$10,000. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Ouita Michel.
Elimination Challenge: For their last Elimination Challenge in Kentucky, the chefs visited the Keeneland Sales auction house. Upon arrival, the contestants were told to create dishes showing gratitude to their culinary mentors. They were then provided US$500 to bid on luxury ingredients for their dishes during an auction. The chefs had to remain conscious of their spending, however, as any ingredients needed for their dishes after the auction would have to be bought using their remaining funds. The winner received US$10,000. The guest judges for the challenge were Top Chef: Las Vegas finalist Bryan Voltaggio and chefs Ouita Michel, Gavin Kaysen, JD Fratzke, Kim Alter, David Posey, and Chris Coombs.
|244||13||"Holy Macau!"||February 28, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The final five chefs traveled to Macau for the remainder of the competition and explored one of the local markets. They were then challenged to create dishes highlighting Macanese proteins, including gum fish, cuttlefish, eel, sea snails, giant scallops, and razor clams. The chefs were given MOP$200 to spend on any additional ingredients available at the market.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs catered a Chinese New Year party with dishes featuring pork products, in celebration of the Year of the Pig. They received assistance from five previously eliminated contestants (Justin, Eddie, David, Brian, and Brandon), who were each assigned a tray containing three unique ingredients: Justin had water chestnuts, coconuts, and lychees; Eddie had shrimp, cauliflower, and walnuts; David had peaches, noodles, and peanuts; Brian had eggs, broccoli, and ginger; and Brandon had cabbage, cashews, and oranges. Once a sous chef was selected by one of the competing chefs, their assigned ingredients would be off-limits to the other competitors. The dishes were required to incorporate all three ingredients as well. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Jowett Yu.
|245||14||"The Tao of Macau"||March 7, 2019|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs created dishes highlighting durian. The guest judge for the challenge was chef Abe Conlon.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were challenged to make a dish fusing their own heritage with Chinese ingredients. They received a surprise visit from their family members, who helped them conceptualize their dishes and shop for ingredients. The guest judges for the challenge were chefs Abe Conlon and Manuela Ferreira, and chef consultant Florita Morais Alves.
|246||15||"Finale"||March 14, 2019|
Elimination Challenge: The three remaining chefs, with the assistance of two sous chefs of their choosing (Brandon & Nini for Kelsey, Justin & Michelle for Eric, and David & Eddie for Sara) had to cook the best four-course meal of their lives. Two hours into prep, the contestants had to serve their first course for the judges, who selected one chef to be eliminated.
Main article: Top Chef § Last Chance Kitchen
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"Three Vets and a Newbie"||December 6, 2018|
Challenge: The first eliminated chef and three Top Chef veterans had to create their best biscuits and gravy.
|2||"When Life Gives You Lemon"||December 13, 2018|
Challenge: The chefs were required to make lemon-forward dishes using only one lemon each.
|3||"Have Yourself a Merry Little Breakfast"||December 20, 2018|
Challenge: The chefs cooked dishes for breakfast.
|4||"Seafood Mis-En-Place Race"||December 27, 2018|
Challenge: The chefs, working initially as a team, were given three mise en place tasks: deveining shrimp, shucking oysters, and breaking down a whole fish. They were not allowed to begin cooking until all tasks were completed.
|5||"Restaurant Wars Comes To LCK"||January 3, 2019|
Challenge (Part 1): The chefs competed in a "mini-Restaurant Wars challenge." The contestants were instructed to create a restaurant concept and then produce a signature dish which exemplified it.
|6||"One More Win And You're In"||January 3, 2019|
Challenge (Part 2): The two remaining chefs expanded upon their restaurant concepts from the previous challenge. Each chef was responsible for creating a three-course meal, which included their dishes from the last round. They were also provided the assistance of five sous chefs, selected via random knife draw, consisting of the remaining cast from the main competition. Brother was assisted by Adrienne, Brian, Eddie, Kelsey, and Sara; Nini was assisted by Brandon, David, Eric, Justin, and Michelle. The winner of the challenge earned a spot in the main competition. In addition, the winning team received an advantage in the following Elimination Challenge.
|7||"The Twist"||January 10, 2019|
Challenge: Following his swift elimination from the main competition, Brother opted out of competing any further. The previously eliminated contestants, minus the returning veterans, were given the opportunity to take his spot in Last Chance Kitchen. The chefs were allowed to cook any dish of their choosing; Colicchio then selected his favorite dish through a blind tasting.
|8||"Slime Time"||January 17, 2019|
|9||"Get Cracklin'"||January 24, 2019|
Challenge: The chefs were given one hour to cook a dish using pig ears, feet, skin, and tails.
|10||"UFOs (Unidentified Food Objects)"||January 31, 2019|
Challenge: The chefs selected three items from an assortment of "mystery ingredients", which were left purposefully unlabeled and prepped in ways to make them hard to identify.
|11||"Shot Clock Shock"||February 7, 2019|
Challenge: The chefs were allowed to cook any dish; however, both chefs had to share one knife, and were only given possession of the knife for 30 seconds at a time.
|12||"The Final Knockout"||February 14, 2019|
Challenge: The chefs created dishes inspired by the "most difficult knockout" of their lives. The chef with the best dish was declared the winner of Last Chance Kitchen and rejoined the main competition.