"Top Chef" heads to the state of Kentucky for season 16. This season, 15 new talented chefs from cities big and small across the U.S. will compete for the sought-after title amid the unique culinary scenes in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland, before heading abroad for an epic finale showdown in Macau, China.
In a massive twist, Padma's favorite challenge Restaurant Wars comes early this year, but before the chefs gear up for battle, they must first duke it out in an amuse bouche-based Quickfire for Top Chef alum turned James Beard Award winning chefs: Karen Akunowicz and Nina Compton. Then, the gauntlet has been thrown and with twelve chefs remaining, three restaurants will be battling for victory. James Beard Award winning restaurateur Caroline Styne joins as the guest judge along with Nilou Motamed. And if this unexpected chaos isn't enough, Tom leaves the Chefs breathless with an announcement that will change the course of the competition.
The chefs walk in on an epic battle of Last Chance Kitchen and are drafted into the fight. Once Tom declares a winner, the chefs immediately begin a challenge making dishes based on Prohibition Era cocktails. Chef Ken Oringer joins Padma, Tom and Graham at a Roaring 20's party with Flappers and Dapper Dans.
Lena Waithe surprises the chefs, by challenging them to make their best version of the trademark Kentucky dish, the Hot Brown. Then super-chef Nancy Silverton brings her internationally renowned friend, butcher Dario Cecchini to break down a whole cow for the chefs to utilize along with locally-sourced Kentucky ingredients.
The chefs take a road trip to Nashville and cook on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry for country music artist Hunter Hayes. Then, they have to dig deep to create a dish inspired by a vibrant music memory. Next, the chefs work on a plate for a full table of Nashville food.
Top Chef alum Ed Lee drops by for a Quickfire that's part trivia, part culinary creativity; Coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats host a concession-stand cook-off in Rupp Arena; Food & Wine Editor-in-Chief Hunter Lewis joins the judges.
The chefs take a turn at fried chicken; chef Art Smith judges a secret herbs-and-spices blind taste test ahead of the Quickfire fry-off; after the finger-licking goodness, the chefs turn their attention to boxer Muhammad Ali, aka the Louisville Lip.
Tom ambushes sleeping chefs and challenges them to make a dish using ingredients harvested from their gardens; for the last elimination challenge, the chefs bid on luxury ingredients at a thoroughbred horse auction house.
The final five chefs travel to the Chinese territory of Macau; Graham Elliot, who has a restaurant in Macau, introduces the chefs to a market full of fascinating ingredients and challenges; the chefs throw a party celebrating the Chinese New Year.
The final four chefs must cook with the smelly durian fruit; the chefs get a tutorial on the traditional cuisine of Macau; for the elimination challenge, the chefs are tasked with blending their own heritage with Chinese flavors.
It's the final showdown; the three remaining chefs must create the best four-course meal of their lives; Tom reveals in a twist that only two chefs will get the chance to serve their full menu; only one chef will emerge victorious.