Dothan woman wins ‘Top Chef’ competition, $135k prize
Alabama’s Kelsey Barnard Clark has won one of America’s most prominent culinary contests.
The Dothan native and owner of KBC restaurant in the “Peanut Capital of the World” brought home the title in the season 16 finale of Bravo’s “Top Chef” that aired Thursday evening.
“It made me realize that I am stronger than I thought I was and just to keep paying it forward back to Dothan and stay true to my roots,” Clark told The Dothan Eagle of the incredible experience.
As the competition winner, Clark will receive the grand prize of $125,000, a feature in “Food & Wine” magazine and an appearance at the annual “Food & Wine Classic” culinary event held in Aspen, Colorado. Additionally, the Dothan chef won the vote for fan favorite, which comes with a $10,000 prize of its own.
Clark held a public viewing party for the show finale at her restaurant Thursday, with the downtown Dothan area reportedly “buzzing.”
For the final “Top Chef” episode this season, the chefs were asked to cook a four-course meal. Clark, whose restaurant is a Southern and French fusion café, used her Alabama roots to craft a Southern-inspired meal for the judges.
The Dothan Eagle outlined, “The first course was cornbread and buttermilk, followed by a vichyssoise (a soup) of French oysters, Chinese chives, pickled green tomato and topped with a cheese straw and caviar. She wrapped up the meal with a peach cobbler paired with honeysuckle ice cream. Only her third course, a soft-shelled crab, didn’t go over as well with judges.”
Clark’s biography on the KBC website reads as follows:
KBC’s chef and proprietor Kelsey Barnard Clark is a born and raised southerner from Dothan, Alabama. She got her start in the food industry as a mere middle schooler with a baking obsession and did her first catering gig at 16.
Kelsey left the deep south for a few years to learn from world-class chefs at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She fine-tuned her skills working for Manhattan’s top restaurants Cafe Boulud and Dovetail before returning to her roots in Alabama to launch her business, now known as KBC. Kelsey’s passion is whole food, prepared classically and plated with big city flair.
Christy Keyton, who owns Naomi & Olive and Bird & Bean coffee house across the street from KBC in Dothan, told The Dothan Eagle that Clark’s accomplishment is really a win for the entire city.
“We’re so happy for Kelsey and we’re so happy for Dothan,” Keyton said. “It’s a big deal for Dothan, Alabama. It’s going to put us on the map. And it’s just fun. It’s just fun to have this here and be celebrating all of that.”
Awesome news! Last night, Chef Kelsey Barnard Clark, a Dothan resident, won Bravo’s Top Chef competition! I am so proud of Chef Clark and wish her continued success. If you want to check out her culinary talents for yourself, visit KBC in Dothan. https://t.co/K9nRHV7VBG
— Rep. Martha Roby (@RepMarthaRoby) March 15, 2019
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn