The cast and contestants of Bravo's "Top Chef" are cooking up something special in our very own kitchen.That's right: Season 15 of the Emmy-winning TV show is currently being filmed in Colorado. A reality cooking competition with the purpose of choosing the next "top chef" (hence the name!), the new season of Top Chef will air later this year, with Padma Lakshmi returning as host, Tom Colicchio as head judge, and Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot as additional judges. Locales will focus on Denver, Boulder, and Telluride. “We are always on the hunt for the next great culinary destination, and Colorado is fast becoming a hot spot for young chefs and foodies, making it an ideal backdrop for our upcoming season,” said Shari Levine, Bravo Media's executive vice president of current production. “Our new cheftestants will have an abundance of inspiration to pull from as they cook amid the awe-inspiring scenery and explore the bourgeoning culinary scenes from cities to mountain resorts.”
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Photo courtesy of Bravo[/caption] So should you be spending every waking moment peeking into area restaurants for sightings of some of the culinary world's biggest names? Not necessarily. “I don’t eat out a lot while filming because I’m very well-fed on-set,”Lakshmi told The Know. In fact, she said she actually prefers to do her own cooking in her hotel room, especially when her 7-year-old daughter is with her. “We cook (in the hotel), even if it’s just with a hot plate. You don’t want your child to eat room service or at restaurants for six weeks. You can do a lot with one pot; we’ve done dishes in the bath tub.”Even then, she did make time to visit Departure, former “Top Chef” contestant Gregory Gourdet’s restaurant in Cherry Creek. “Departure was so delicious. I was so proud of him,” Lakshmi said. “He’s one of my favorite contestants of all the seasons." She added that if she's able to, she'd like to eat at Fruition, as well as some of Troy Guard's restaurants. Choosing Colorado as this season's filming location is great news for our state's overall economy, especially when the show airs. “This is a big get because Colorado is not looked on as a food destination," said Donald Zuckerman, head of Colorado's Office of Film, Television & Media, who offered Bravo Media a 20 percent incentive to film here. “The best food show on television will show our great restaurants, ranches, farms, our lamb, peaches, wines….People will look at Colorado in a different way.” Previous seasons of Top Chef have been shot in New York, Las Vegas, California, and, most recently, in Charleston, South Carolina.