The Untold Truth Of Top Chef Winner Kelsey Barnard Clark

Kelsey Barnard Clark rose to fame as the winner of Season 16 of "Top Chef" when she wowed the judges in the finale with a four-course southern-inspired meal that incorporated classic cooking techniques and Macanese ingredients (via Food & Wine). Since winning the show, the self-proclaimed southern belle has returned home to Dothan, Alabama, where she is the owner and executive chef of KBC, a restaurant, bakery, and catering business (via the EatKBC website).

Today, Clark lives in Dothan with her husband, Deavours, and two children, son Monroe and daughter Evelyn "June" (via People). She has her dream kitchen complete with her dream oven, which she bought with her winnings from "Top Chef," and a garden filled with vegetables alongside a chicken coop (via Bravo on YouTube).

As a working mom, Clark's priorities seem to be both her business and her family, both of which she runs based on southern influences. "We believe at KBC that the table should be where anyone can come and experience love, community, and belonging," per her website, encouraging diners to join her professional family with the motto "Y'all Come!" (via EatKBC).

Yet, there's more to Clark than meets the eye, from the creative name her family gave their pet rooster and her favorite condiment to the surprising room her parents turned into a kitchen for her when she was growing up.

Kelsey Barnard Clark has a rooster named Dolly Parton

Clark is quite the gardener. Some of the produce, including okra, tomatoes, and peppers — the latter of which makes for some awesome pepper jelly — for KBC comes from Clark's own garden, and its eggs from her own home chickens. Family activities include working together in the garden and yard and gathering eggs (via Vie Magazine) from their 14 chickens. They also have a rooster named Dolly Parton, who they originally thought was a female (via Bravo on YouTube).

"I spend more time in the garden than in the kitchen," Clark told Vie Magazine.

Although Clark says both her grandmother and great-grandmother were gardeners, she started gardening herself not out of family tradition, but because she wanted to avoid drinking after work.

"My garden and my house are my oasis. I have plants everywhere. Gardening and getting my hands dirty became my alternative to getting drinks after work with my friends. I wanted something that wasn't drinking that was a way to wind down," she told Furthermore.

As for Clark's favorite garden harvest, it might just be shishito peppers, which she says she eats "pretty much every night" (via Furthermore).

She had some serious working mom guilt while on Top Chef

Kelsey Barnard Clark's son, Monroe, who was 9 months old at the time "Top Chef" was being filmed, took his first steps while she was away for the show. She only got to talk to him three times during the tapings. When she broke down in front of the judges with working mom guilt, she was met with uplifting motivation from the judges.

Clark revealed to Vie Magazine the female chefs told her "This is better for your child than you sitting at home." Reflecting on these words, Clark said, "It really helped me not to feel guilty about being a working mom.... I got to the finals then, and then I was like, 'I'm here to win.'"

After winning "Top Chef," Clark became a poster woman for working mothers everywhere, a role she takes on willingly.

"I think it's important for every woman to know that they have the right to have a career and have a really damn good one, and they have a right to be a great mother, and you don't have to choose. So for me, that's the thing I'm gonna preach till I can't anymore," she told Bravo.

Kelsey Barnard Clark's parents turned the pool house into a kitchen for her

Kelsey Barnard Clark's passion for cooking and baking started early. She catered her first wedding when she was 15 years old and said some of her most significant memories are of catching, gutting, and eating fresh fish at the beach (via Bravo). When she was 12 years old, she drew the logo for her future restaurant and catering business, KBC. Her middle school art teacher sent it to her as a gift after she won "Top Chef" (via Vie Magazine).

Clark eventually left her hometown to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York state, but not before her parents converted the pool house into a kitchen for their daughter.

"I started really getting serious about cooking and tinkering when I was like 14," Clark told Taste of the South Magazine. "The more I did it, the more I loved it. ... I could be out there tinkering and out of their way."

Kelsey Barnard Clark has an entire bin of hot sauce in her refrigerator

Clark gave Bravo a tour of her home, during which they found that her refrigerator is impeccably clean and organized. Inside, you'll find bins of food including snacks for her children, dairy products, berries, and grapes, all of which are perfectly labeled. On the very top shelf of the refrigerator, you'll find an entire bin labeled "bottles."

"By bottled I really mean hot sauce," Clark said. "That's what this whole bin is for. I'm definitely very organized all the time, I would say. It definitely makes an easier lifestyle for sure."

Clark's pantry follows the same pattern of organization as the refrigerator with multiple bins for snacks and jars, which she calls her "best friends," filled with items like homemade trail mix and animal crackers as well as baking staples like flour.

The one item she can't live without? Ramen noodles.

"If you don't have Ramen noodles in your pantry, we can't be friends," Clark said (via Bravo).

She teaches virtual cooking classes

Kelsey Barnard Clark offers both group and private cooking classes on various cuisine topics virtually via Zoom. Participants can pick a class that interests them from the calendar on her website. Classes might include an instructional on a salmon with rice or quinoa and vegetables dish that is a best-selling item at KBC, barbacoa tacos with homemade tortillas, or a southern layered caramel cake. Staff members from KBC also offer classes on this platform, including one presented by the bartenders titled "Bartend Like a Boss" that offers instructions on making cocktails.

Private parties are also available, for which participants will receive a digital shopping list to be sure they have all the supplies on hand before the class begins. Clark hosts a live Q&A session at the end of the class.

Clark encourages participants to bring their children to classes. "We love little hands in the kitchen," per Kelsey Barnard Clark's website.