Top Chef Winner Kelsey Barnard Clark Shares What's in Her Kitchen

Bravo alum Kelsey Barnard Clark shares money-saving kitchen hacks and hosting tips for Kentucky Derby and Mother's Day events.

By Marenah Dobin May 03, 2022 3:00 PMTags

We interviewed Kelsey Barnard Clark because we think you'll like her picks at these prices. Kelsey is a paid spokesperson for Williams-Sonoma. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!. Prices are accurate as of publish time.

This year, the Kentucky Derby and Mother's Day are colliding, which gives everyone the perfect excuses to go all out with celebrations. Top Chef winner Kelsey Barnard Clark teamed up with Williams-Sonoma to create a menu with Derby-themed recipes for all of us who want to host at home.

If you're in the mood for okra hot fries, smoked wings with BBQ sauce, and decadent pecan pie, Kelsey shared her recipes with Williams-Sonoma. She also shared her super affordable kitchen must-haves, money-saving hacks, hosting tips, and Mother's Day gift suggestions in an exclusive E! interview.

Our Place Sale Last Day: Save 20% on Always Pan With 25,100+ Reviews and These 14 Kitchen Must-Haves

E!: Tell me about teaming up with Williams-Sonoma. What do you love about the store?
KBC: They just make everything so freaking easy. You go in there and they have everything laid out for you to emulate at home, like with a table setting. I don't naturally know which tablecloths to pair with silverware, but at Williams-Sonoma they have all the ideas for you right there.

E!: Do you have any tips on hosting friends for the Kentucky Derby or some general hosting tips we can apply for other events?
KBC: Keep in mind that revolves around a race that's pretty quick. You need to have some fan plans to keep everyone entertained. I love having themed cocktails and games where people can move around and socialize. You can even turn making a cocktail into an activity with a cute cocktail area.

You can Google a trivia game related to the event. There's a lot of fun thanks to the internet. I think doing things like that to tie the party into the event and get people interacting is the way to go.

I also think it's good to have a general schedule in your brain, an idea of the order of events. You don't have to rigidly follow it. You don't even have to tell anyone about it, but just having a logical order to put out appetizers, serve different foods, and play games is a great way for you stay on track, keep calm, and have fun.

Kelsey Barnard Clark's Kitchen Must-Haves

E!: Are there any under $50 essentials that you think everyone should have in the kitchen?
KBC: Do you have a pen and paper? I have a long list for you. 

OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer

"I tell I get so many questions about how I get things "so perfectly thin and sliced." It's not because I have such great knife skills. Get a good mandoline. It's great for vegetables. Whenever I want to look like I spent a lot of time preparing a meal, I use the mandoline."

This mandoline has 8,000+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler

"A Kuhn Rikon Peeler will save you time and it's available for around $5 and it comes in a bunch of colors. You won't see a chef who doesn't have one of those."

This peeler has 10,100+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Kuhn Rikon Colori Non-Stick Straight Paring Knife with Safety Sheath

"The Kuhn paring knife is great. We all use them. I've had one for about 15 years."

This knife comes in 13 colors and it has 1,600+ 5-star Amazon reviews.


Pro Grade - Paint Brushes- Set of 5

"I tell people not to buy pastry brushes. Instead of spending that money, just get a regular paint brush. There are packs with them that come with brushes in different sizes. That's what I've always used, even when I worked in Michelin restaurants as a pastry chef."

This brush set has 32,600+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Hoojo Refrigerator Organizer Bins- Set of 8

"I'm all about refrigeration organization these days. I think it's important to organize my fridge the same way I would organize a fridge at a restaurant. I know where everything should be and it's much easier to know if I've run out of something. These don't need to be expensive either. You can get clear containers anywhere at great prices."

This eight-piece set has 11,700+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Madesmart Small Soft Grip Tote

"I also recommend getting shower caddies to organize your refrigerator or pantry. They are perforated and easy to wash."

This one has 1,000+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Wapodeai White Electrical Tape and Sharpie

E!: Do you label your containers? How do you organize once you have all the supplies?
KBC: I keep it really simple. I use a Sharpie marker and white electrical tape. Everyone asks me where I got these "labels." So many people have asked. I just write on a piece of tape.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet With Assist Handle

E!: Are there any products that get a lot of hype that you'd rather replace with a cheaper alternative instead?
KBC: The Lodge has great pots and pans. They're cast iron and they're really good. If you can't invest in Le Creuset right now, go for the Lodge. It's a quality product that you will use a lot.

This skillet has 104,000+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

All-Clad Precision Stainless-Steel Solid Spoon

E!: What would you say is your most practical kitchen must-have?
KBC: I cook a lot in other people's kitchens and now I travel with stuff. The number one thing I tell people is to throw away plastic spoons in your house that you're supposed to cook with. These don't work. Get rid of the cheap spoons you have and invest in one good spoon or ladle.

E!:  Are there any specific brands or products that you recommend?
KBC: I know, I'm representing Williams-Sonoma, but I promise this is truly a natural, organic thing I'm saying. Williams-Sonoma is a great place to shop in addition to antique stores. You can get real silver spoons for just $2 at antique stores sometimes. You just need a reliable, sturdy spoon. You don't want a spoon with plastic that melts while you're cooking.

KitchenAid Artisan 5 qt. Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

E!:  Are there any pricey kitchen essentials that you think we should always try to be on sale?
KBC: I think you really need a KitchenAid mixer in your house. If you want you can go do research on all the products, but I'm telling you that nothing can replace KitchenAid mixers. If you're in a restaurant or a house with someone who does a lot of cooking, you will find a KitchenAid mixer. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth having. The mixer is a great one to buy on sale because they are pricey. If you can't find a good sale, you can also buy a used one.

These mixers come in many colorways. Busy Philipps recommended this mixer. It has 11,200+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender, Professional-Grade

E!: Is there a kitchen product that really lives up to the hype?
KBC: I use to think "I don't need a Vitamix." I said it all the time. And, then whenever I used a blender that was not a Vitamix, I realized how much I appreciated the Vitamix. The Vitamix lives up to the hype. I tried everything else. Save yourself some time and money. Just get the Vitamix.

This blender has 4,700+ 5-star Amazon reviews and it was recently recommended by Busy Philipps too.  

Williams-Sonoma Ginger Jars

E!: Are there any kitchen must-haves that you think would be a thoughtful Mother's Day gift?
KBC: I would say the KitchenAid Mixer is something you can't go wrong with. I also love the ginger jars at Williams-Sonoma. I think they're the best because you can use them for so many things. You can use them for decoration. You can put a flower arrangement in them. I love the idea of giving someone a ginger jar with flowers for Mother's Day. I just think that's such a fun gift.

While you're shopping, Busy Philipps shared what's in her kitchen, including the same KitchenAid mixer and the Vitamix blender.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.)