When Bravo’s “Top Chef” announced last March that it would be filming the 15th season of the popular cooking competition in Colorado, we all had a lot of questions.
Where would the “Top Chef” kitchen be? (A Thornton warehouse.) Where would they go? (Denver, Boulder, Telluride, Aspen, Estes Park, Larkspur.) Will we have any locals as contestants? (Carrie Baird of Bar Dough and Brother Luck of Four by Brother Luck.) Will they make the chefs cook Rocky Mountain Oysters? (Yep.) Denver omelets? (Also yep.) Make a dish with marijuana? (Nope.)
Now that all has been revealed — including winner Joe Flamm, from Chicago –we thought you might want to take your own “Top Chef” tour of Colorado, eating and drinking as Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi did on the show.
Here’s everywhere “Top Chef” went this season, from the Cherry Creek Whole Foods that always had a way better fish selection than when we go, to the snowy Estes Park campground where the chefs cooked, to the cheese farm in Larkspur that gave Baird her first taste of victory.
You know what they say: If a hotel’s good enough for Padma … well, then, you probably can’t afford it. But that’s not the case for The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block, where the judges stayed while in town filming the show. Room rates start at $149, although we’re sure Lakshmi wasn’t sleeping in a standard double queen room. 1850 Wazee St., Denver; themavenhotel.com from $149/night
The contestants were sequestered at a private home in Capitol Hill, but the Bravo folks won’t tell us where, exactly, it is. We’re sure it’s probably to protect the privacy of the homeowners, but come on! We need to know the exact whereabouts of the bear den.
Give yourself a shopping list (make sure to include “Top Chef”-worthy items like monkfish and purple cauliflower) and 15 minutes to shop at the Cherry Creek Whole Foods that the chefs frequented. When a Lululemon-clad woman threatens to sue you for running her down with a shopping cart, just tell her you saw others racing on TV so thought it was OK. 2375 E. First St.
The “Top Chef” kitchen took three weeks to build inside a Thornton warehouse typically occupied by Northern Electric. That’s where most of the Quickfires, Last Chance Kitchens and Judges’ Tables took place. Unfortunately, it’s back to business as usual for Northern Electric, so no more culinary TV drama for Thornton.
The first Elimination Challenge took place at Larimer Square. The chefs put their spins on meat and potatoes right before that epic May hail storm rained down on us. Mother Nature not cooperating for you? You can recreate the fun by taking a hammer directly to your windshield. Same end result. larimersquare.com
You, too, can tailgate at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and hey, your food might even be better! For the Super Bowl episode, chefs were paired off to cook for hungry Broncos fans, players and Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock — and judge Tom Colicchio scolded the cheftestants for their lackluster food. Baird and Chris Scott won Super Bowl tickets after their poutine reigned supreme. 1701 Bryant St.; sportsauthorityfieldatmilehigh.com
Brother Luck met his doom at Elitch Gardens. His egg rolls didn’t quite fit the challenge, to pair authentic German food with a radler (half beer, half fruit soda). Eat a pretzel and pour out a beer for him at Elitch’s Beer & Pretzels stand. 2000 Elitch Circle; elitchgardens.com
Before the Elitch’s challenge, the cheftestants gathered at Rhein Haus with guest judge Keegan Gerhard (D Bar) for some German inspiration. Although this episode wasn’t the best for Luck, he did create his own sandwich — a cheddarwurst, bacon-jam, fried egg and pickle concoction — for Rhein Haus’ menu, so at least there’s that. 1415 Market St.; rheinhausdenver.com
The Restaurant Wars episode was at Mile High Station. Baird’s team won with its “Colorado-forward” restaurant, Conifer, but since the space is usually used for weddings and events rather than reality-TV restaurants, you may leave disappointed — and hungry. 2027 Old West Colfax Ave.; milehighstation.com
The final Denver Elimination Challenge took place at the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion, where the chefs created a dish that told the story of their culinary journey on “Top Chef.” Stop by and see if Hick and Robin are available for dinner; we’re sure they’d love to see you. 400 E. Eighth Ave.
Three other Denver restaurants that got in on the 15 seconds of food TV fame: Comal Heritage Food Incubator helped inspire the chefs for their heritage food Elimination Challenge, filmed at former “Top Chef” contestant Gregory Gourdet’s restaurant, Departure. Say “hi” to Mercantile Dining & Provision chef/owner Alex Seidel, who contestant Tyler Anderson had a serious man-crush on in episode 2. Mercantile hosted that episode’s Elimination Challenge. 3455 Ringsby Court, 249 Columbine St.; departuredenver.com; and 1701 Wynkoop St.; mercantiledenver.com
Your chance to eat Baird’s cooking right now is at Bar Dough, where the affable chef often works the dining room, talking with fans and taking selfies. To see more of her menu magic, check out Just BE Kitchen, a paleo restaurant that Baird helped open right before heading off to compete. 2227 W. 32nd Ave.; bardoughdenver.com and 2364 15th St.; justbekitchen.com
The chefs got schooled on cheese at Fruition Farms Creamery. For their second Elimination Challenge, they used the farm’s cheeses to create a four-course cheese-centric menu. Baird won her first challenge with a potato and ricotta dumpling. Want to host your own cheese challenge? Stock up at one of the Creamery’s tours (check its website for dates). 14347 SE Cherry Creek Road, Larkspur; fruitionfarmscreamery.com
Just two days before “Top Chef” filming started, Luck opened his restaurant, Four by Brother Luck. See if he deserved to pack his knives and go so soon with the $45 four-course tasting menu. 321 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs; fourbybrotherluck.com
Remember the Boulder food truck challenge with the notorious Instagram “influencer” Logan Paul? That one took place at East Boulder Community Park, and local trucks The Ginger Pig, Niishi, Farm & Smoke and Hoof, Wing & Fin were all along for the ride. Alas, you won’t get to try “Mustache” Joe Sasto’s winning chicken wings. 5660 Sioux Drive, Boulder
Baird had a nightmare of a time with the Quickfire Challenge at The Stanley Hotel. She failed to get most of her dessert on the plate, which prompted Lakshmi to look at her with disdain. Like, even more than usual. 333 E. Wonderview Ave., Estes Park; stanleyhotel.com
Sadistic judge Gail Simmons called the snowy camping in Estes Park challenge one of her favorites of the season. Of course, she didn’t have to sleep outside in frigid weather. She just had to eat what the frostbitten, exhausted chefs made for her. If you want to sleep where the chefs slept, get a spot at the East Portal Campground and pray for snow. 3420 Tunnel Road, Estes Park
The chefs’ Telluride headquarters was the Madeline Hotel, where you can stay in style and practice your high-altitude baking. Except instead of getting berated for playing it too safe, as Baird did in this Elimination Challenge, have the chefs at Alpino Vino, North America’s highest restaurant at 11,966 feet, feed you their $150-per-person five-course tasting menu. 568 Mountain Village Blvd., Telluride; madeline.aubergeresorts.com and 12100 Camels’ Garden Road, Telluride
Reunite with family the “Top Chef” way — by forcing them to cook your favorite childhood dishes at The Observatory at Alta Lakes, a backcountry cabin 13 miles outside of Telluride. Even though Baird’s spin on her mom’s beef stroganoff was successful, it was less so than the remaining three contestants’ dishes. Toast her over a meal at 221 South Oak, the restaurant owned by “Top Chef” alum Eliza Gavin and site of Baird’s last creation. altalakes.com (to get the exact location, you have to book it) and 221 S. Oak St., Telluride; 221southoak.com
For their Rocky Mountain trout Quickfire Challenge, the final three chefs went fishing in the T-Lazy-7 Ranch‘s lake. (Remember: bears poop up the mountain, so don’t eat mountain trout raw!) If you’re in Aspen in June and have an extra couple grand burning a hole in your pocket, stop by the Food & Wine Classic, where “Top Chef” winners and contestants often host demos and meet and greets. 3129 Maroon Creek Road, Aspen; tlazy7.com
“Top Chef” Colorado came to an end at the Aspen Mountain Club at The Little Nell. That’s where Flamm cooked an Italian feast good enough to edge out Adrienne Cheatham’s soul food menu. Riffraff like us can’t just waltz in to the club, though. The AMC is private, so you’ll either have to know a member or become one to get in. 675 E. Durant Ave., Aspen; thelittlenell.com
Find our complete “Top Chef” Colorado coverage including recaps of every episode, interviews with the judges and more here.