Top Chef Winner Kelsey Barnard Clark on Being a Chef and a Mom: “You Can Chase Your Dreams and Not Feel Guilty”

Bravo's Top Chef Season 16 winner Kelsey Barnard Clark has something to "preach till I can't anymore" — so listen up.

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Bravo's Top Chef Season 16's winner Kelsey Barnard Clark has had a series of bittersweet parenting experiences related to her time on the show: For one thing, she sadly had to miss her baby's first steps while she battled it out in the competition. But at the same time, Kelsey told The Feast her baby was also the secret weapon that powered her to the top prize: "I don’t know if I would’ve won without that driving force because it kept me going."

"One thing that I’ve had a ton of positive feedback from is just, to just show people that you can balance all of it carefully," she said. "You can have a husband and you can have a child, you can have a career, you can be a badass, and you can be motherly, you can be nurturing, and you can be tough," she said... "and win Top Chef."

She continued, "I think that that’s really important for women specifically to know. You can chase your dreams and not feel guilty about it. You can also be a fantastic mother — you can do it all."

And as for that mom guilt that's so culturally pervasive? Pshaw — let it go, Kelsey said. "I think women deal with guilt more than anyone when it comes to being a mother and trying to raise children and balance your career," she told The Feast. "Every time you choose your career over your family, you feel like that’s what you’re doing but it doesn’t have to be that way. I mean, it can be that you’re doing both and I think that’s important to show."

In the end, she was happy she was able to represent that idea on TV. "I think it’s important for every woman to know that they have the right to have a career and a really damn good one, and they have a right to be a great mother and you don’t have to choose," she said. "So for me, that’s the thing that I’m gonna preach till I can’t anymore."

—Reporting by Laura Rosenfeld

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