Bravo Exec Reveals Which Top Chef Competitor Deserved More Time: "Gone Way Too Early"

Bravo's Top Chef producer-director Dan Cutforth wishes we'd had more time with this "really good chef."

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Now we know that Bravo's Top Chef is heading to Kentucky for Season 16 when it premieres Thursday, December 6 at 9/8c, with a whole new batch of 15 chefs from around the country competing for the Top Chef title. And with 15 past seasons already in the bag, were there any cheftestants who should have stayed in contention when they were instead asked to pack their knives and go?

The Feast asked the show's director-producer Dan Cutforth about that when we caught up with him recently in NYC. We questioned: Who’s a chef who left the competition earlier than you had hoped?

"Actually, that’s happened quite a lot," he told us. "When we started doing Last Chance Kitchen, that was the great thing about it — there were so many chefs, like, someone [who] for whatever reason [left too soon]" could keep hope alive.

He added, "The season that we did in Las Vegas that was such a strong season with the Voltaggio brothers, Kevin Gillespie, Jen Carroll. Ashley Merriman was a really good chef. She was on that season and she was gone way too early."

And he's not the only one in his household who felt that way: "I remember my wife, when she saw that, we were watching an early cut of it at our house and she was like, 'No!' There are people like that from time to time but now we have Last Chance Kitchen, there’s always a chance for people to get back in."

He also counts CJ Jacobson as another chef he wishes we'd all had more time with. "He did really well on Last Chance Kitchen, but didn’t quite make it back," he said.

Still, all's well that ends well: "Then he won Top Chef Duels so he was OK."

—Reporting by Laura Rosenfeld

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