Why Is Top Chef Going to Kentucky? A Bravo Exec Responds to Those “What the Hell” Questions

Bravo's Top Chef Season 16 chefs will compete in Kentucky's Louisville, Lexington, and Lake Cumberland regions.

Bravo's Top Chef is heading to Kentucky for Season 16 when it premieres Thursday, December 6 at 9/8c. A whole new batch of 15 chefs from around the country will compete against the backdrop of the culinary scenes in Louisville, Lexington, and Lake Cumberland. 

Off the bat, the location selection drew some raves, including from judge Graham Elliot, who called Kentucky an "amazing" backdrop for the show, and host Padma Lakshmi, who wasted no time indulging in the local offerings. But — as with everything! — this decision drew its critics. Mainly, the feedback came from other areas' locals defending their own cities' offerings. Here's what the show's director-producer Dan Cutforth had to say about that when The Feast caught up with him recently in NYC.

"Location is such an important part of every season.... One of the things [that] has kept the show feeling fresh over many, many seasons now — 16 seasons — is that every season there’s a different place to tap into the food culture and history," he explained. "So we try and think about that. We try to think about, first of all, places we haven’t been, stories we haven’t told. For example, somewhere like Kentucky [is] an unexpected choice. And in fact, I literally had to do an interview with a journalist in Philadelphia and a journalist in Atlanta who were both going like, ‘What the hell? You’re going to Kentucky and you haven’t been to our city yet?’"

He called Kentucky an example of a bit of an underdog getting its moment in the light. "There are some [underappreciated] pockets around the country now of culinary excellence," he said, "and it was just really cool to go somewhere that people probably didn’t expect and show people something a little bit different."

Press play on the clip above for your first look at Bravo's Top Chef in Kentucky.

-Reporting by Laura Rosenfeld

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