Sharpen your knives! Top Chef‘s new season is here, and they’ve raised the bar—all the way up to the Rockies.

PEOPLE caught up with host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Graham Elliot ahead of Thursday night’s season 15 premiere, where a new crew of cheftestants go head-to-head in Colorado.

“It’s very different than anywhere we’ve ever shot before,” Simmons said. “We’ve mainly shot in major cities, whether it’s Charleston, New Orleans, Miami, New York or L.A. But to shoot a whole season in Colorado, the entire season is really shot outdoors. In a way we’ve never done that before, and the challenges are that much more grandiose and beautiful with locations that were just breathtaking.”

Colorado’s flair brought forth distinct challenges from a Denver omelette, to contestants showing their culinary prowess through “Rocky Mountain oysters”—which, in case you didn’t know, are buffalo testicles. “I wasn’t there that day, so I didn’t have to try it but I heard it was not good. Like some of them poached them, sliced them and fried them at least—but others decided to puree them. It was pretty funny,” Elliot laughed.

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