Rich in homegrown ingredients, nationally recognized chefs and a strong maker culture, it's no wonder Bravo set its upcoming season of "Top Chef" in breathtaking (and delicious) destinations in Colorado, including Denver, Boulder, Aspen and Telluride, and that Slow Food Nations chose Denver as its first festival celebrating "good, clean and fair food."
Follow the episode guides below each week to find the special places visited on the show, as well as interviews, travel tips, articles and much more!
Episode 1: Denver
The 15 cheftestants got their first taste of Colorado by throwing a block party on Denver's historic Larimer Square, where they highlighted the city's culinary renaissance from a meat-and-potatoes town to the home of chefs and restaurants that are taking food to a new level. For the challenge, they put their own spin on ... meat and potatoes! Keegan Gerhard of D Bar Denver, Hosea Rosenberg of Boulder's Blackbelly and Santo and Troy Guard of TAG Restaurant in Denver made appearances as guest tasters.
More to explore:
Read 5 Colorado Culinary Food Trends to Feed Current Cravings.
Read a Q&A with former "Top Chef" winner and Boulder chef, Hosea Rosenberg.
Check out this Denver: The Highlights itinerary.
Discover the history of Union Station and all there is to see and do there.
Episode 2: Denver & Larkspur
With the field narrowed to 14, the cheftestants split into two teams for a Quickfire challenge involving a mise en place relay. Denver chef and restaurateur Troy Guard, whose restaurant group boasts 10-plus establishments in Colorado, joined host Padma Lakshmi for the judging. Later, Padma introduced chef Alex Seidel, who is known for bridging the gap between farm and consumer. He invited the group to Fruition Farms in Larkspur — the first artisanal sheep dairy and creamery in Colorado — which supplies fresh produce and cheeses for his restaurants, Fruition and Mercantile. The cheftestants were tasked with creating a progressive, four-course meal highlighting a different cheese from the farm’s creamery in each. Again working in two teams, they cooked and served at Mercantile inside Union Station, with Seidel and cheesemaker Jimmy Warren serving as guest judges. Hometown chef Carrie Baird of Bar Dough scored a win overall for her sheep’s milk ricotta and potato dumpling with butter sauce and hazelnut relish.
More to explore:
• Discover things to see and do at Denver's Union Station.
• Read a Q&A with local chef and restaurateur Troy Guard.
• Find out what the 10 must-eat foods are in Colorado.
• Get chef Alex Seidel's take on living and cooking in Colorado.
Episode 3: Boulder
The 13 cheftestants are challenged to a Sudden Death Quickfire based on deconstructing the iconic Denver omelet. James Beard award-winning Chef and “Top Chef Masters” alum Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine and Pizzeria Locale joined the judges in the tasting, and Brother Luck of Colorado Springs’ Four by Brother Luck won with his smoked duck egg with red pepper gastrique, cheddar and ham tempura and pepper salad. Then, the chefs break up into teams of four to feed University of Colorado Boulder students in a food truck challenge at the foot of the Flatiron Mountains. Hosea Rosenberg of Boulder’s Blackbelly and Santo and winner of season five “Top Chef” joined in on the tasting and judging of the indulgent hangover food.
More to Explore:
Discover Colorado Farm Stays
Read Top Five Picnic Spots in Boulder
Check out a Q&A with a Colorado Star Chef: Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson
Episode 4: Denver
For the Quickfire this week, the cheftestants had to update and elevate classic items from a traditional kids’ menu, using only child-size utensils and cookware. “Top Chef Junior” head judge Curtis Stone joined Padma to taste the dishes, along with a trio of pint-size judges: the kids of Denver chefs and restaurateurs. Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson’s daughter Lydia, Alex Seidel’s son Jack and Peter Karpinski’s daughter Nael showed off their discerning palates and proved the apple doesn’t fall far from the epicurean tree. For the elimination challenge, the focus was on digging into the group’s roots and heritage, inspired by a visit to food incubator Comal, which helps immigrant women turn their love for the food of their heritage into careers. A group of culinary influencers gathered at Departure Restaurant + Lounge in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood for the meal, including former cheftestant Gregory Gourdet, who serves as Departure’s culinary director, and Denver chef Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class.
More to explore:
Check out 12 Colorado food and beer pairings.
Read a Q&A with former cheftestant Gregory Gourdet.
Discover 8 things to do in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood.
Episode 5: Estes Park
Armed with an armful native Colorado ingredients (from venison, bison, lamb and trout to dried cherries, sunchoke and crimini mushrooms) and camping equipment, the cheftestants are challenged to cook a five-star dish while camping in the snow after a surprise spring storm at Estes Park Campground at East Portal near Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. They stopped at Estes Park Mountain Shop Outlet Store to pick up camp gear and outdoor cooking supplies, and are faced with tasks like pitching tents and prepping ingredients in the cold. Colorado wild boar was the star of the winning dish prepared by Bruce Kalman of Los Angeles’ UNION and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market, who creatively shaped his egg yolk cavatelli with a mandolin board.
More to Explore:
Read the Colorado Culinary Camping Guide
Discover Get Outside: 10 Magical Moments on Colorado’s Public Lands
Learn more about Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
Read Camping in Colorado: The Basics
Check out Glamping in Colorado: Camping with Beds & Other Perks
Episode 6: Denver
Powering through a "camping hangover" from the last challenge, the cheftestants rallied to face their next Quickfire: Turn a time-consuming signature dish from their own menus into a 30-minute meal for the home cook, inspired by popular online Tasty videos. Former "Top Chef" contestant-turned-judge Richard Blaise, of Juniper & Ivy in California, was on hand to help Padma taste the dishes, and Colorado Springs chef Brother Luck landed in the top three for his speedy version of a paella. To introduce the elimination challenge, local chef Keegan Gerhard (D Bar Denver) discussed his German roots and brought the group to Rhein Haus to sip on radlers — a 50/50 mix of beer and fruit soda — and sample pork shank, duck proscuitto and other fare, in prepartion of throwing a "Top Chef"-size German festival at Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, where they had to make an elevated German dish along with their own version of a radler for a crowd of 200 diners.
Episode 7: Denver
Padma and “Top Chef” season 14 winner Brooke Williamson of Los Angeles’ Hudson House surprise the cheftestants with an early morning Quickfire to make a mouthwatering breakfast dish featuring Nutella at their Capitol Hill house in Denver. Hometown chef Carrie Baird of Bar Dough scored a win overall for her sweet-and-savory eggs benedict with Nutella, strawberry habanero jam and hollandaise. Then, the chefs pick up ingredients at the Whole Foods in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood to compete in the first-ever Top Chef Olympic Games. Three winter Olympians — ice-dancer Meryl Davis, slopestyle freeskier Gus Kenworthy and skeleton racer John Daly — help the judges score the cheftestants on precision, speed and creativity.
Whole Foods in Cherry Creek
More to explore:
Discover a Fresh Look at 6 Colorado Farmers' Markets
Read Colorado Athletes Strive for Olympic Glory This February
Check out Visit Denver’s “Top Chef” Recaps