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North County Chef Among This Season's 'Top Chef' Competitors

Tune in starting December 1

Tommy Garcia/Bravo Media

'Top Chef' returns to Bravo's airwaves on December 1 for the 14th edition of the reality cooking competition. This time around, Charleston, South Carolina provides the backdrop for the show, and joining host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons is new judge and 'Top Chef Masters' alum, Graham Elliot.

Season 14 will pit eight new contestants against eight veteran contestants from previous seasons. Among the veterans is Casey Thompson, who competed on Season 3: Miami and Season 8: All-Stars, and is currently working in North County at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

Thompson arrived in San Diego five months ago and tells Eater that she's in the midst of repositioning the culinary direction of the property, which includes a remodel and revamp of its signature restaurant, Morada. The chef is giving the hotel's food program a refresh based on her cooking style, which she says is "light, feminine and based on fresh ingredients", so look for her menus to launch there in Spring 2017.

Thompson isn't the only contestant with ties to San Diego; Season 7 alum Amanda Baumgarten now cooks in Chicago but once worked at La Jolla's Herringbone and was the founding chef of Waypoint Public in North Park. And Juniper & Ivy's Richard Blais will return as a guest judge.