The current season of “Top Chef” is taking place in Colorado. | Photo by Paul Trantow/Bravo

NBC Universal could leave Kentucky with up to $3.526 million in state incentives after committing to film the 16th season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” in the Bluegrass state, according to Kentucky Office of Film and Development.

Jay Hall, executive director of Kentucky Office of Film and Development, said he could not reveal how much the network would invest in producing the new season in Kentucky but noted that it could lead to further television and film exposure for the state and provide jobs to Kentuckians in the industry.

The state will offer an incentive for production and nonresident labor cost at 30 percent, and Kentucky resident labor or talent at 35 percent, Hall told Insider.

“From a tourism perspective, it’s going to be incredible. You’re talking about a television series that is going to be a commercial for Kentucky for an entire season,” Hall said. “It’s an incredible opportunity all way around.”

NBC Universal announced plans to film the competitive cooking show “Top Chef” in Kentucky on Thursday. It said production would begin in the spring with the season set to premiere later this year. Filming will focus on places in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland.

“We are always looking for rising culinary destinations and are looking forward to planting our flag in Kentucky and soaking up a diverse region of the country that we haven’t yet explored on ‘Top Chef’,” Shari Levine, executive vice president of Current Production, said in a news release.

“Kentucky has a strong food identity, and we know our incoming chefs will be inspired by the burgeoning culinary scene, known for its innovative takes on Southern cuisine, melding flavors and use of Kentucky’s agricultural bounty.”

Future announcements will reveal the competitors and what iconic food and places “Top Chef” will highlight. The show will undoubtedly feature two Kentucky heritage points: bourbon and horses.

“Kentucky is internationally known for its bourbon and horses, but our rich culinary culture is an unexpected, hidden gem. Our robust agricultural offerings and unique approach to food in every region of the state, combined with Kentucky’s natural outdoor beauty will surprise and delight the ‘Top Chef’ viewers,” Kristen Branscum, commissioner of Kentucky Department of Tourism, said in a news release.

The award-winning show features Padma Lakshmi as the host and judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]