As if "Cooking with Caitlin" Steininger didn't have enough to do. The Cincinnati chef, restaurant owner, newspaper columnist and mother of four spent part of her summer competing on Bravo's Top Chef, which premieres Thursday Dec. 6.
At least she didn't have to travel far.
The 16th season was taped in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland, Ky., and at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. (However, the top five finishers compete in an "epic finale showdown" filmed in Macau, China, with host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, Nilou Motamed and Gail Simmons.)
"Remember when Caitlin went to Italy this summer? Wellllll, that's not eXACTly where she was… Top Chef is closer to the truth. #ALLIN," was the message posted on her Facebook page for CWC (Cooking with Caitlin), the restaurant she opened last year at 1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming, with her CWC team.
Her Bravo bio revealed revealed that they plan to open a second restaurant, Station Family + BBQ, reportedly in the Wyoming area. The Cooking with Caitlin empire also includes a weekly Cincinnati Enquirer column and a show 3-4 p.m. Sundays on WKRC-AM (550).
The 15 contestants include one Kentucky resident (Sara Bradley from Paducah), and seven from the East Coast (Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.). The others are from California, Florida, Alabama, Minnesota and Iowa. Read all the names and more about the show here.
From the Bravo announcement:
"The 'cheftestants' work to impress the judges and notable guests as they bet it all at Kentucky’s famous racetracks, Churchill Downs and Keeneland, cook for Laila Ali at the Muhammad Ali Center, and compete in a buzzer beater showdown for roaring fans at the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena with Hall of Famer, Coach John Calipari.
"At Maker’s Mark’s iconic bourbon distillery, the chefs celebrate two Kentucky mainstays as they are tasked with putting their spin on classic dishes including burgoo, Benedictine, hoe cakes and dumplings. In addition, the blindfold taste test is back as the chefs must identify a variety of herbs and spices for a KFC-inspired Quickfire.
"Emmy-Award Winner Lena Waithe is on hand for a Quickfire challenge reimagining the Hot Brown and 'Below Deck's' Captain Lee Rosbach and Captain Sandy Yawn join the cheftestants for a house boat challenge in Lake Cumberland.
"Embarking on a road trip to Nashville, the chefs hit the Grand Ole Opry stage dishing up delectable delights to musicians Hunter Hayes and Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, along with his wife, model Lily Aldridge.
"And for the first time ever, the chefs grow their own produce and must use their harvests in one of the final Kentucky challenges. The top five chefs then travel to Macau, China, to the heart of fusion-food, to battle it out for the title of “Top Chef.”
"Throughout the season, the chefs will serve culinary stars including: Emeril Lagassé, Eric Ripert, Jonathan Waxman, Art Smith, Nancy Silverton, Richard Blais, Brooke Williamson, Nina Compton, Karen Akunowicz, Annie Pettry, Caroline Styne, Sean Brock, Tandy Wilson, Dario Cecchini, Ken Oringer and Abraham Conlon."