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April 4-6, 2025

Word of South

Kelsey Barnard Clark

Kelsey Barnard Clark is a born and raised Gulf Southerner from Dothan, Alabama. She has developed an impressive resume, including being the fifth woman and first southerner to win the title of Top Chef, and was also voted fan favorite following her season 16 win.

Kelsey got her start in the food industry working for a high-end caterer and catered her first solo wedding at age 15. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she worked savory & pastry in several Michelin-star restaurants in New York City, including Café Boulud under Gavin Kaysen, and Dovetail under John Fraser. Her signature southern-French cuisine is inspired by family recipes and classic French techniques.

In 2012 Kelsey moved back home to open her catering company, Kelsey Barnard Catering. Today, she runs her catering company and restaurant, KBC, in historic downtown Dothan while also teaching virtual classes, taking her chef talents on the road, and appearing and cooking at events as often as possible.

 Her book Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook, was published in 2021, and she was recently named a semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Awards, Best Chef: South. She’ll be appearing at Word of South with the musician Leon Majcen, and certain of her recipes will be prepared by a local chef for the audience.