Top Chef: Colorado - Season 15 – Episode Summary

Want to have your own Top Chef Colorado experience? Denver is a culinary-soaked wonderland of progressive, award-winning chefs, multi-cultural restaurants, formidable farmers’ markets, the most notable craft-beer culture in the country, highly regarded producers, ranchers and farmers and sensational food halls. Check out these foodie hotspots and scenic places from Bravo’s delicious TV series. Food & Wine has also put together its own Top Chef tour of Colorado


Episode 1: ‘It’ll Take More than Pot Luck’

Scene: Denver

Summary: The season kicks off with 15 contestants, including two from Colorado: Carrie Baird (Bar Dough, Denver) and Brother Luck (Four by Brother Luck, Colorado Springs). Carrie is relegated to the bottom two after the QuickFire Challenge, and doesn’t exactly redeem herself in the Elimination Challenge, which involves cooking a modernized meat-and-potato dish in the heart of Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest block.

Explore more:
Check out Denver’s must-try restaurants
Take a historic Denver walking tour  

Episode 2: ‘Smile & Say Mise'

Scene: Denver and Larkspur

Summary: The Elimination Challenge involves creating a four-course progressive menu that features a mystery ingredient from Fruition Farms Creamery, Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef Alex Seidel’s Larkspur-based dairy farm. There, the chefs are schooled in the creamery’s award-winning cheeses before being shuttled to Mercantile Dining & Provision, Seidel’s stunning restaurant inside Denver Union Station, to execute their dishes for the judging panel.

Explore more:
Experience the best of Denver’s food scene
Admire the culinary goldmine that’s Denver Union Station
Take a bite out of Denver’s best dining neighborhoods

Episode 3: ‘Keep on Truckin’’

Scene: Denver and Boulder

Summary: Near the Colorado State Capitol, the chefs are given orders to deconstruct a Denver omelet and later are charged with conceptualizing a food truck concept and designing a three-dish menu for famished college students in Boulder.

Explore more:
Satisfy your cravings at Denver’s food truck scene at Civic Center Eats
Check out the Capitol Hill People’s Fair
Get cultured at Boulder Arts Week Embark on a Boulder Flatirons Explorer Tour

Episode 4: ‘Little Tools, Big Challenge’

Scene: Denver

Summary: The chefs are charged with updating classic dishes from a traditional kids’ menu, which are evaluated by pint-sized critics. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs must make a meal that reflects their heritage, and they head to Comal, a multi-cultural, female-run food incubator that assists immigrant women with finding employment, for inspiration. Departure Denver Restaurant + Lounge, a pan-Asian restaurant in Cherry Creek, is the site of the Elimination Challenge.

Explore more:
Check out Denver’s top international restaurants
Feast with the family at Denver’s top kid-friendly restaurants
Discover Denver’s best Mexican restaurants

Episode 5: ‘This is Not Glamping’

Scene: Estes Park

Summary: The chefs head to Estes Park for a camping adventure and attempt to cook five-star meals in the woods.

Explore more:
Experience the quaint village of Estes Park
Take a nature hike in Rocky Mountain National Park  
Shop for Denver’s best wild West apparel at Rockmount Ranch Wear
Load up on foodstuffs from a local farmers’ market

Episode 6: ‘Now that’s a lot of Schnitzel’

Scene: Denver

Summary: The chefs must create an elevated German dish and a raddler, a fifty-fifty mix of beer and fruit soda. Keegan Gerhard, who was raised in Germany and now spearheads the kitchen of Denver’s D Bar, is introduced as the guest judge, and he takes the chefs to Rhein Haus, a German-inspired biergarten, to introduce them to strudel and schweinshaxe. The Elimination Challenge takes place at Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park. Luck inexplicably creates an Asian-inspired egg roll. He’s promptly bid auf wiedersehen.

Explore more:
Treat the kids to these family-friendly Denver attractions
Explore our favorite places to pair a pint with pub grub

Episode 7: ‘Olympic Dreams’

Scene: Denver

Summary: In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the bleary-eyed chefs have to make breakfast dishes that incorporate Nutella. Baird cements her victory with a savory and spicy twist on eggs Benedict. Three bona fide Olympians later judge the Elimination Challenge.

Explore more:
Make travel plans to attend Denver’s biggest events of 2018
Take in Denver’s gorgeous city parks
Attend a pro sporting event in Denver
Check out Denver’s best Nutella breakfast dishes

Episode 8: ‘Restaurant Wars’

Scene: Denver

Summary: Mile High Station, a gorgeous brick-walled special events venue, is the location of the smack down, which involves creating dueling pop-up restaurants, each of which is overseen by two teams of four.

Explore more:
For a great bang for the buck, purchase a Mile High Culture Pass
Check out our extensive guide to eating and drinking alfresco in Denver
Admire the striking ambiance at Denver’s best-designed restaurants and bars

Episode 9: ‘Bronco Brouhaha’

Scene: Denver

Summary: The chefs must cook an elevated, game-winning dish at a tailgating party at Empower Field at Mile High. And that’s not all: They’ll also be judged by several Denver Broncos players, local star-chef Jennifer Jasinski and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

Explore more:
Attend one of the city’s top food-and-drink festivals
Slice into a red-blooded slab of steer at a Denver steakhouse
Indulge in a pre-game bite at these restaurants and bars score big points for their pub food

Episode 10: ‘Red Rum and then Some’

Scene: Denver and Estes Park

Summary: It’s about to get creepy. Just five chefs remain, and if that weren’t scary enough, they’re escorted to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, famous, for among other things, hosting horror novelist Stephen King and his wife for one night in 1973—a terrorizing evening that later became the inspiration for King’s novel, The Shining. The chefs have to construct a diabolical dessert that visualizes their worst nightmare. The chefs later cook for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at his official residence.

Explore more:
Get spooked at Denver’s haunted Cheesman Park
Slumber at a ghostly hotel in Denver
Channel your spirit beer at these Denver breweries and taprooms

Episode 11: ‘Cooking High’

Scene: Telluride

Summary: The remaining four cheftestants depart Denver for Telluride, the site of the first leg of the finals. After admiring the views and checking out their majestic mountain digs, they’re summoned to the town’s historic New Sheridan Bar. They have to hatch a recipe for a gastropub-inspired dish featuring sarsaparilla, a medicinal beverage and hangover cure. The Elimination Challenge involves cooking (and baking) at Alpino Vino, which, at an elevation of 12,000 feet, is North America’s loftiest restaurant.

Explore more:
Spend a day in Golden, Denver’s closest mountain town
Check out Colorado’s coolest monuments, parks, historic sites and mountain getaways
Plan your tavern, brewpub and taproom romp using our beer aficionado’s guide to Denver

Episode 12: ‘Sunday Supper’

Scene: Telluride

Summary: It was only a matter of time before the chefs are required to cook with a famous Colorado ingredient, Rocky Mountain Oysters. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs are chauffeured to the Observatory at Alta Lakes, where they’re treated to a reunion with a member from each of their families, all of whom cook a family-style dish illustrative of childhood rituals. Baird, Denver’s hometown heroine, gets the boot.

Explore more:
Don’t miss Denver’s top attractions
How to make the most of a girlfriend getaway in Denver
Drink in the Denver skyline from a mile high

Episode 13: ‘A Little Place Called Aspen’

Scene: Aspen

Summary: The final three cheftestants are plopped into the wilderness surrounding T-Lazy-7 Ranch, where they’re given 40 minutes to catch, cook and plate a trout dish. In order to advance to the grand finale, each team must cook a vegetarian dish that’s aromatic with the smoke and fire from the logs smoldering in their imposing Cowboy Cauldrons, a fancy name for steel fire pits and grills.

Explore more:
Admire Aspens first and only fine art fair
Behold Colorados gorgeous Aspen trees on a day trip near Denver
Spend the day fly-fishing inand aroundDenver

Episode 14: ‘No Last Act’

Scene: Aspen

Summary: It’s the final showdown! Two Southside Chicago chefs—Adrienne Cheatham and Joe Flamm—have cooked their way into the final, but only one will emerge victorious. The two chefs bask in their glory on the gondola that whisks them skyward to the Aspen Mountain Club at the Little Nell. They have to create a four-course, side-by-side progressive meal for a table of culinary superstars. Flamm wins!

Explore more:
See the majestic Colorado Rockies
Partake in Denver’s biggest events of 2018
Discover 10 things about the Mile High City
Attend a summer concert at Red Rocks, America’s best amphitheater


For its 15th season, Top Chef, the smash Bravo TV show that featured 15 chefs from across the country competing in high-pressure culinary challenges, unfolded in venues across Colorado, including several locations in Denver.

Episode Recaps

Denver's Dining Scene