The premiere of the newest season of Top Chef is less than 8 weeks away — and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at what’s to come this season
The 16th season takes place in Kentucky and features host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, and Nilou Motamed with Gail Simmons making smaller appearances due to maternity leave.
This winter, 15 cheftestants are competing for the coveted title, hailing from cities across the country like Philadelphia, Miami Beach, Boston, and Brooklyn.
One contestant, who is from the Bluegrass State, tells the camera in the preview clip: “I’m the Kentucky girl. I’d like to win it for my state.”
The season appears to have many highs and lows, and Lakshmi announces there will be not two, but three restaurants competing in the famous Restaurant Wars challenge this year — an unprecedented event.
Guest judges include Dear White People‘s Lena Waithe, chef Emeril Lagasse and country singer Hunter Hayes.
Simmons makes a special appearance through webcam, showing off her growing baby belly: “I’m literally days away,” she says. The Canadian chef and her husband Jeremy Abrams welcomed son Kole Jack Abrams on May 23.
RELATED VIDEO: Padma Lakshmi’s Message To Immigrant Kids: ‘The Beauty Of America Is Anything Is Possible’
In February, Bravo announced the new season would take place in Kentucky for the first time ever.
“We are always looking for rising culinary destinations and are looking forward to planting our flag in Kentucky and soaking up a diverse region of the country that we haven’t yet explored on Top Chef,” said Shari Levine, executive vice president, current production, Bravo Media. “Kentucky has a strong food identity and we know our incoming chefs will be inspired by the bourgeoning culinary scene, known for its innovative takes on Southern cuisine, melding flavors and use of Kentucky’s agricultural bounty.”
Here’s the full list of contestants and their hometowns:
Eric Adjepong – Washington, DC
Sara Bradley – Paducah, KY
Kelsey Barnard Clark – Dothan, AL
Edmund “Eddie” Konrad – Philadelphia, PA
Pablo Lamon – Miami Beach, FL
Natalie Maronski – Philadelphia, PA
Michelle Minori – San Francisco, CA
Nini Nguyen – Brooklyn, NY
Brandon Rosen – San Mateo, CA
Kevin Scharpf – Dubuque, IA
Caitlin Steininger – Cincinnati, OH
Justin Sutherland – St. Paul, MN
David Viana – Asbury Park, NJ
Adrienne Wright – Boston, MA
Brian Young – Boston, MA
Top Chef premieres December 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.
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