Local foodies have reason to be excited this spring: “Top Chef,” a Bravo network reality television show, will be coming to Telluride.
Now in its 15th season, the show, which pits prominent chefs against each other in an elimination-style contest, will be filmed across the state of Colorado in Denver, Boulder and Telluride, according to a Bravo news release. Filming will begin sometime in the spring; specific dates have not been provided.
From a tourism standpoint, this means exposure for Telluride’s culinary scene, according to Kiera Skinner, Telluride Tourism Board marketing director.
Skinner said the announcement is an “incredible opportunity” for the town.
“The show does an excellent job of incorporating elements of a destination, including the culture, beauty and world class food scene into the program,” she said.
Skinner is referring to the challenges contestants face each week, which usually highlight local scenery, ingredients and restaurants.
“We are thrilled that Telluride’s assets will be showcased,” she said.
While no filming locations have been announced and places are still being scouted, Skinner said the media company has looked at places in both Telluride and Mountain Village.
According to Skinner, Telluride has been scouted for other reality television shows in the past, but Telluride declined the offers for one reason or another. “Top Chef,” on the other hand, was a “no brainer.”
She said the kind of viewers “Top Chef” attracts is similar to the type of visitors that come to Telluride.
“Bringing Telluride to (this type of) target audience will hopefully translate to interests and conversion” as it pertains to tourism numbers, Skinner said.
While the show’s executive producer, Doneen Arquines, couldn’t give away specifics about scouting locations, she did say that it hasn’t been easy due to many places being closed in the off-season.
“It’s definitely an interesting challenge for us,” she said. “Telluride seems to quiet down between the first weekend of April and Memorial Day weekend.”
Arquines said that Telluride was chosen for the show because of its unique character and location in the state.
“It’s so far away from the other mountain towns, that it was fun for us to explore something a little different,” she said, “Everyone we spoke to said that we were going to fall in love with it as soon as we saw it.”
As for picking Colorado for the upcoming season, Arquines said that while the show has spent a lot of time on the nation’s coasts, this was a chance to explore the middle of the country and its “burgeoning” culinary scene.
“I love that there is so much going on between the chefs and farmers in the area,” she said. “With so much land right outside the city, the chefs are able to have really close relationships with their farmers.”
According to a news release, the show will air later this year and will be hosted by Padma Lakshmi, who has been with the series since 2006. The “chef-testants” will be critiqued by a panel of judges, including renowned chefs Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot.
Shari Levine, Bravo’s executive vice president of current production, said Colorado was an ideal place for contestants to cook amid “awe-inspiring scenery.” The show’s goal is to explore the food culture of the cities and a mountain resort during the upcoming season.
“We are always on the hunt for the next great culinary destination and Colorado is fast becoming a hotspot for young chefs and foodies, making it an ideal backdrop for our upcoming season,” Levine said in a news release.