For Season 16, Bravo’s “Top Chef” heads to the state of Kentucky as 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. The Emmy-winning series returns with host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, Nilou Motamed and Gail Simmons. Get a closer look at “Top Chef: Kentucky” by clicking through our Season 16 cast photo gallery above.
Current Residency: Washington, DC
Occupation: Chef/Owner Pinch & Plate
Born and raised in New York City, Chef Eric Adjepong is a first generation Ghanaian-American. He resides in Washington, D.C., where he is a personal chef, a caterer and public health & nutrition professional. He has degrees from Johnson & Wales in Culinary Arts, Culinary Nutrition (BS) and International Public Health Nutrition (MPH). Eric has cooked in some of NYC’s premiere restaurants including two different Michelin Star rated establishments. Chef Eric’s inspiration comes from various cultures and regions of the world and he sources a lot of his flavors from the foods that he grew up eating. Eric is currently focused on his pop-up series Pinch & Plate that he works on with his wife.
Current Residency: Paducah, KY
Occupation: Chef/Owner, freight house
Sara Bradley hails from Kentucky and is the chef and proprietor at freight house, a unique southern inspired restaurant and bourbon bar located in Paducah, KY. Chef Sara grew up surrounded by strawberry fields and pit BBQ in Paducah, KY, eating elaborate meals with her family every night. Sara’s Jewish mother and Appalachian father exposed her to a wonderful culinary upbringing. She developed her skill set under the tutelage of Michelin star chefs, John Fraser at Dovetail, as well as David Posey and Paul Kahan of Blackbird, before opting to return to her roots to indulge in the flavors the Ohio Valley and Western Kentucky have to offer. Inspired by her upbringing in her own family’s kitchen, Sara’s mission is to bring fresh, local ingredients from the community, to the community, while working to define the flavor of the “new south.” At freight house, she aims to bring regional ingredients to her dishes by sourcing the majority of her products from farmers within a day’s drive, while working within the community to help educate it on how to employ “farm-to-table” practices in their own kitchens. Whether she’s cooking at the James Beard House, on a BBQ pit, or for her traditional Sunday family meal, mixing the flavors of her rich agricultural community and keeping with traditional recipes is a task she takes pride in tackling.
Kelsey Barnard Clark
Current Residency: Dothan, AL
Occupation: Executive Chef/Owner, KBC
Kelsey Barnard Clark is a born and raised “Gulf Southerner” from Dothan, Alabama. She got her start in the food industry as a middle school student with a baking obsession and catered her first wedding at age 15. Kelsey’s most impressionable memories were made at the beach catching, gutting and eating fresh fish with her large family. At 20 years old, Kelsey dropped out of college and left the deep South to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. While in New York, she fine-tuned her skills and learned the art of elevated food by working under Gavin Kaysen at Cafe Boulud and then in pastry at John Fraser’s Dovetail. Kelsey’s passion is cooking from the heart, and from her memory. Her dishes are inspired by southern classics with her French techniques sprinkled throughout. Kelsey runs her restaurant and catering company, KBC, in Alabama with her husband, baby Monroe, and two horse-dogs.
Current Residency: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Chef De Cuisine, Laurel Restaurant
Edmund Konrad is currently Chef de Cuisine at Laurel, a French-inspired New American restaurant in South Philadelphia, from “Top Chef’ winner Nicholas Elmi. Eddie was born and raised in Philadelphia where he attended Mercy Vocational High School and studied culinary arts. He realized at a young age that being in the kitchen made him feel like he was finally a part of something. After he graduated, Eddie attended Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island where he met his wife, Keri Lynn and many other close friends within the culinary field who he still works with today. Eddie has worked in many influential restaurants in New England and across the Mid-Atlantic including Del Posto in New York City and Le Bec Fin back home in Philadelphia. With training in Italian and French techniques, Eddie focuses on refined, ingredient driven cuisine. He has always strived to improve his own skills as well as provide an educational environment for his fellow chefs and employees. As a father, Eddie is a natural teacher and mentor to those who work around him. His focus on creating experiences for his guests is always at the core of his culinary work.
Current Residency: Miami Beach, FL
Occupation: Chef De Cuisine, 27 Restaurant & Bar
Pablo Lamon grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina and recognized his passion for cooking at a young age. When Pablo was 22, he was in a motorcycle accident that left him unable to walk for one year. Experiencing such pain and hardship early in his life, Pablo was able to realize his true strength. He began his culinary career working at the Award Winning Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. At 23 years old, he left Argentina to travel the world and work in the kitchens on luxury cruises and yachts, cooking for rock stars, politicians and celebrities. Since settling in Miami, FL., he has worked for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and “Top Chef” winner, Jeremy Ford. Currently, Pablo is the Chef de cuisine of 27 Restaurant & Bar in Miami Beach.
Natalie Maronski was born in Monterey, CA to a Vietnamese immigrant mother and an Army officer father. As a child, she moved every few years to diverse locales such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Hawaii and Virginia. After graduating high school in Virginia, Natalie moved to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University’s culinary program, while she also minored in business. Although she spent time working in NYC during and after college, her heart is clearly owned by Philly. She worked for nearly ten years with nationally acclaimed chef Jose Garces, where she rose through the ranks and helped open multiple restaurants spanning a variety of cuisines including: Peruvian, Chinese, Spanish, Basque and fine dining New American. These culinary experiences, coupled with her heritage, and living with rheumatoid arthritis has influenced and shaped her focus on flavor, techniques and healthy cooking. Natalie is currently working on launching “Underground Concepts, LLC” which will include four venues within a nationally historic and iconic Philadelphia landmark. Her goal is to deliver local and approachable food along with unique and fun experiences across the intersection of food, music, art and culture. When she is not cooking, Natalie can be found bicycling, walking her dog Wilma, and playing recreational sports around Philadelphia.
Current Residency: San Francisco, CA
Michelle Minori grew up in the small town of Lodi, California. After graduating with honors from The California Culinary Academy Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, she went on to cut her teeth at some of the city’s top Michelin restaurants including Aqua, Acquerello and La Folie. In these kitchens, Chef Michelle developed technical fine dining skills as well as the grit and work ethic that it took to succeed in kitchens of this caliber. She moved on to run the kitchen at Flour + Water where she found a love and respect for handmade pasta, whole animal utilization and bread baking. She later helped open Faith and Flower in Los Angeles where she developed the pasta and bread programs for the restaurant. Michelle returned to San Francisco where she served as Executive Chef of Barzotto, a fast casual, high-quality pasta restaurant. During her tenure there she garnered press and accolades including being named 2017 “Rising Star Chef” in the San Francisco Chronicle. Michelle has since left Barzotto to pursue her own professional endeavors that build community, promote equality, and celebrate the people who grow and make our food. It’s the relationships she’s developed with farmers and memories of growing up picking fresh veggies in the garden that inspires her to cook with quality ingredients and lots of respect for their origins and history.
Current Residency: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Executive Chef/Culinary Director, Cook Space
Nini Nguyen is the Culinary Director of Cook Space in Brooklyn, NY where she uses her experience to teach home cooks how to cook like the professionals. Hailing from New Orleans, LA, Nini is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, and she embraces both culinary influences in her cooking style. Nini pursued a traditional college career, and earned a degree in business marketing from Louisiana State University, but realized her true passion was in cooking. She started working in her home town, New Orleans, at Sucre and Coquette, specializing in pastries. In 2012, Nini decided to move from the Big Easy to the Big Apple where she honed her skills at Eleven Madison park and nationwide at Dinner Lab. As an extremely curious person, Nini loves to roam through markets in different cities, tasting, smelling and squeezing every kind of produce she can get her hands on.
Current Residency: San Mateo, CA
Occupation: Private Chef
Chef Brandon Rosen grew up immersed in his family owned and operated chocolate factory, Leah Gold’s Fantazamadazzle Magical Chocolate Factory in Howell, Michigan. When Brandon was a teenager, he began working at a number of small town establishments where he fell in love with cooking. At age 16, he competed in his first culinary competition with the American Culinary Federation, led by coach and mentor, Chef Scott Swamba. After graduating high school early, Brandon left rural Michigan to chase his dreams in the big city, where waited outside Alain Ducasse at The Essex House day after day before getting hired. After working through the restaurants closure, he transitioned to Eleven Madison Park, before moving west to work in the kitchens at The French Laundry, Benu and Redd in California. Presently, Brandon is an Executive Private Chef in the Silicon Valley. Throughout his career he has come to understand that true American cuisine is defined by the many different cultures that have migrated together and he strives to represent these flavors in his dining experiences.
Current Residency: Galena, IL
Occupation: Executive Chef/Owner, Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar
Kevin Scharpf is the Chef and Owner of Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar in Dubuque, Iowa. Born in Dubuque and raised in Galena, Illinois, Kevin started watching Emeril Lagasse on TV, and fell in love with the art of cooking. At 16, Kevin knew that the culinary world was calling his name and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, MN. For his externship, he traveled to NYC to train at Daniel where he was offered a line cook job that he turned down to move back to the Midwest with his family. He has also staged at Elizabeth in Chicago and Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis. Being passionate about small community and the people in it, Kevin landed back in the Midwest with his wife, Lyndsi and their two children Lola and Lloyd. In 2015, he opened Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar and has been named one of Full Service Restaurant Magazine’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars.” He also works hand in hand with small farms in his area and is passionate, not only about the produce, but the people growing it. Kevin is hoping to put Iowa on the culinary map.
Current Residency: Cincinnati, OH
Occupation: Executive Chef/Owner, CWC, The Restaurant
Chef Caitlin Steininger grew up in Cincinnati, OH and tweaked her culinary prowess with classic French training at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. An independent spirit, Caitlin started a website and brand with her sister called Cooking with Caitlin, which features recipes, video demos and podcasts. For years, Caitlin traveled all over the United States and internationally to Italy feeding and entertaining guests at intimate pop-up events. In 2017, Caitlin opened CWC, the Restaurant, as a natural extension of the food-focused Cooking with Caitlin brand. The restaurant landed among Cincinnati Magazine’s Best New Restaurant List. She is currently working on opening their second restaurant Station Family + BBQ. A wife and mother of four, Chef Caitlin is a mercenary for food experiences, a lover of the community and a devotee of Cincinnati eats.
Current Residency: St. Paul, MN
Occupation: Executive Chef, Handsome Hog
Hailing from St. Paul, MN, Justin Sutherland spent his childhood in the kitchen learning from his mother and grandmother. Growing up his favorite TV show was “Yan Can Cook” and on his fifth birthday he asked for an easy bake oven. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, he moved back home to hone his skills in some of Minneapolis’ top restaurants including Meritage and Brasserie Zentral. Sutherland is currently the Owner sand Executive Chef of two restaurants in the Minneapolis area, Handsome Hog & Pearl and the Thief. He recently competed and won on “Iron Chef America.” Justin is fearless in his craft, is dedicated to discipline, and never settles for anything but the best.
Growing up with Portuguese parents, David Viana fostered a love of food at an early age and remembers helping his family in the kitchen cook for his relatives that would come over every Sunday. After attending the Institute of Culinary Education, and working for Bobby Flay, Anthony Bucco, and Michael White, Chef David sharpened his skills in world-class kitchens including Eleven Madison Park and Two Star Michelin restaurant Villa Joya in Portugal. He received distinguished recognition as the Executive Chef at The Kitchen at Grove Station, receiving three stars from the New York Times who described his dishes as “magical” and “hypnotizing.” At Heirloom Kitchen, David continues to impress, receiving three-and-a-half stars from The Star-Ledger within weeks of the restaurants opening. He was also nominated in 2018 for a James Beard Award—Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic. When David is not at work, he spends his time with his young son Cole.
Current Residency: Boston, MA
Occupation: Executive Chef, Boston Urban Hospitality
Adrienne Wright is the executive chef for Boston Urban Hospitality, managing teams of chefs and cooks at Deuxave, Boston Chops Downtown, Boston Chops South End and dbar, all located in Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up in Goshen, Connecticut on a small family farm where she learned the importance of knowing where your food comes from and the beauty of growing your own food. She has culinary and nutrition degrees from Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island and has lived in New England her whole life. With an enthusiastic nature and focused determination, Adrienne climbed her way to the top of the Boston Urban Hospitality Group working for Chef Chris Coombs. In 2015, Adrienne was featured on Zagat Boston’s “30 under 30” list. She loves to travel and draws inspiration from her own heritage as well as the cultures she has experienced. Her passion is making elevated and inspired dishes that blend flavors, techniques and ethnicities. A competitor at heart, she was part of the winning team in 2017 for Boston’s Culinary Fight Club.
Current Residency: Boston, MA
Occupation: Chef De Cuisine, Cultivar
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Nashville, Chef Brian Young sought to express himself creatively as both a chef and a musician from an early age. After years of touring as a musician and cooking barbeque at the historic BB King’s Blues Club, he set his focus on a career as a chef, enrolling in the culinary arts program at New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. After graduation, Brian traveled west to Big Sur, CA, where he began his fine dining career at Sierra Mar at the prestigious Post Ranch Inn. From there, he returned to his New England roots as a sous chef in Saint Albans, VT, before joining Chef Mary Dumont’s team at Harvest as executive sous chef. Chef Brian then served as the executive chef at Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, chef de cuisine at Post 390 and co-chef at Townsman alongside Chef Matthew Jennings. In 2013, he was named to Zagat Boston’s “30 under 30” list. Chef Brian has competed on “Beat Bobby Flay,” cooked at The James Beard House and at many Cochon 555 events across the country.