DOTHAN, Ala (WTVY) -- The past year has been a whirlwind for Kelsey Barnard Clark.
Photo Credit: Smallz & Raskind/Bravo Media
“I knew that I had no idea what was coming so I was just going to roll with it,” said Clark.
The chef and owner of downtown Dothan's KBC found out she was selected for Season 16 of Top Chef. She then left her nine-month-old baby at home and spent weeks filming in Kentucky and China. For the past three months, we've watched her compete in challenge after challenge.
Clark said, “I knew I made it to the finals. So that was the hard part. I think was keeping it all such a secret.”
Kelsey won two elimination challenges during the season.
The first was to throw a party on a houseboat on Lake Cumberland.
The second - cook a Chinese New Year themed dish for 200 guests in Macau, China.
Kelsey thinks her experience as a caterer helped her shine during the season.
She said, “Brides all hand you different weddings that they want and you have to figure out how to make it happen for them. I was able to see each of them as a wedding and say this challenge is like a wedding I've had before how can I make it work? And just go from there.”
But not every challenge went so well.
“Restaurant wars… for a lot of reasons I loathe those two episodes.”
Kelsey wants to set the record straight.
“That whole scene of me like with the front of the house staff. First of all, to tell your staff when they are in your kitchen to not speak is not offensive. That's the nicest thing you can say to people when they are in your kitchen being disrespectful to your chef. ‘Please stop talking,’” said Kelsey. “So that made me mad. That made me really mad that I was being attacked by it. It made me mad that it was twisted to like I was screaming at them. Everyone was screaming. The only reason it sounded like I was screaming was because that’s how we were talking to each other.”
She points out they are using about 4 days of footage for every one-hour episode. There's a lot you don't see.
Kelsey said, “Every episode is always shocking. I can't believe they didn't show XYZ, and I can't believe they did show XYZ. I mean reality TV is not all reality. I'm a human with a camera behind me. Of course, I'm going to say things I shouldn't have said. Of course, I'm going to say things out of context or might offend someone. You probably would too is what I want to tell everyone.”
She says there are a lot of other misconceptions, like how they were somewhat isolated in Kentucky.
“We were completely disconnected from society. We were on this farm essentially. No watches. No phones. No clocks. No TVs. No news. The only people we could talk to are the people in your house,” said Kelsey.
Kelsey said she’d do it again, knowing what she knows now. However, she wouldn’t want to go back and relive this experience.
“It was really honestly just miserable for me. I did not have fun on ‘Top Chef.’ I did not enjoy most of my days there. I made the best of them and of course, I had fun moments. At the end of the day, I was just, ‘Get me out.’ I wanted to go home. I'm glad I survived. Would I do it again? I don't know, but not with a nine-month-old baby I wouldn't. I would do it now, but not with a nine-month-old baby,” said Kelsey.
The whole season will culminate Thursday night in the finale with a chance to make history.
“There's only ever been three women winners out of 16 seasons. Three women. I think that's what everyone is rooting for or all women at least. Hopefully some men. Just to see that turn especially right now it would be a very positive thing to happen,” said Kelsey.
Kelsey is also one of two finalists in the fan favorite competition with the chance to win $10,000.
You can vote for fan favorite online: www.bravotv.com/fan-favorite.
Everyone is invited to watch the season finale at a big street party in Downtown Dothan Thursday, March 14.
Visit Dothan is hosting the free wrap up party from 6 pm – 10 pm on North Foster Street.