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Top Chef judges in Denver, from left, Graham Elliot, Gail Simmons, Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio. (photo by paul trantow/bravo media)

Show highlights food in Colorado

Utensils down, everybody, because Top Chef finished filming its 15th season over the summer, and it takes place in Boulder, Denver and Telluride. Local restaurateurs are excited to see Colorado featured on the show—it lends the state recognition as a bona-fide foodie destination, which may attract tourism and the culinary conventions that usually favor cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Judge Padma Lakshmi has already raved about Departure, the Denver restaurant where past Top Chef contestant Gregory Gourdet cooks up modern Asian cuisine, and the show’s spotlight will also draw attention to Colorado’s culinary resources, such as peaches, lamb, cheese and wine.

Top Chef challenge in Boulder with, from left, YouTuber Logan Paul, Padma Lakshmi and past Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg. (photo by paul trantow/bravo media)

This is no happy accident, though. Colorado’s film commissioner, Donald Zuckerman, spent a million dollars to score the coveted Top Chef location spot, and he thinks it will pay off big time. “It really highlights food in Colorado,” Zuckerman says. “I came here six years ago, and I think the restaurant scene has improved remarkably since then. If I asked my friends in New York and London if Colorado is a food destination, they would say no, but I think this will help change that.”

Unfortunately, luring such big-ticket shows to Colorado won’t be an option next year, as lawmakers recently voted to cut the state’s film-incentives budget from $3 million to $750,000. It’s quite a blow to Zuckerman’s resources, but he’s staying motivated. “Our goal this year is to serve the local filmmaking community. Boulder is a documentary epicenter, so we’re going to use the funds to enable projects like that, and hopefully get a larger budget to work with next year.”

In the meantime, grab a sandwich from Boulder’s Blackbelly for a taste of previous Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg’s culinary genius, and get ready for the new season premiere on Thursday, Dec. 7, when we’ll find out if any of the contestants attempted a Rocky Mountain oyster risotto.

—By Sara Bruskin