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‘Top Chef’ Season 15 Showcases Colorado in a Big Way

The state’s food, scenery, and — yes — its weather are at the center of this new season

Top Chef Season 15’s premiere featured a block party in Larimer Square
Paul Trantow/Bravo

Rocky Mountain oysters, fourteeners, and hail storms all make appearances in the new season of Top Chef, which was filmed last spring in Colorado and premiered on Bravo TV Thursday. Season 15 of the hit television culinary competition is all Colorado all the time, and it’s a huge honor for the city of Denver, according to Governor John Hickenlooper, my mom, and also the state’s tourism office.

“We are thrilled that Top Chef picked Colorado for its first foray into the Rocky Mountains,” says Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, “and we can’t wait for viewers across the U.S. and internationally to get a fun, new perspective of some of our top culinary destinations, including Denver, Boulder, Telluride, and Aspen.”

The season’s premiere starts with two faces familiar (or soon to be) to Colorado diners: Carrie Baird, head chef of Denver’s Bar Dough, is a cheftestant; she was also this year’s reader’s choice winner for Eater Denver’s Chef of the Year award. Brother Luck, of Colorado Springs’ Four by Brother Luck, joins her in the 15-contestant lineup. Their culinary challenge on the first episode ends with some challenging Colorado weather, set in a Larimer Square food festival during a hail storm. No spoilers here, but this Colorado Top Chef season is proving to be a nail biter for its home-state contestants.

According to CTO and Bravo, the season continues with a tour of the state’s top culinary destinations, including a visit to Boulder with Top Chef Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg, and a trip to Telluride and 221 South Oak, former show contestant Eliza Gavin’s restaurant. Later in the season, the contestants head to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, where they’ll also compete in a campfire cook-off.

Seven Denver chefs appear as guest judges throughout the season, including Frank Bonnano (Mizuna), Keegan Gerhard (D Bar), and Alex Seidel (Mercantile). In addition to Mercantile, the show will make stops at Denver restaurants Fruition, Departure, and Rhein Haus.

Colorado’s spotlight this year for Top Chef is just one indicator of the state’s growing food scene. Last year, Denver saw more than 220 restaurant openings, and four Colorado chefs were named semifinalists for the 2017 James Beard Awards. This year, Denver was host to the first-ever U.S. Slow Food Nations. Check back for developments as the show progresses.

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