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San Diego’s Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins Competing on Top Chef

The local chef is opening El Jardin in Liberty Station

Courtesy photo

San Diego will have a representative competing in the 15th season of ‘Top Chef’, which premieres on Thursday, December 7. Local chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins is among the 15 contestants on the latest edition of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series, which was filmed in Colorado and will feature segments shot in Denver, Boulder, Telluride and Aspen; challenges reportedly include deconstructing the Denver omelet and preparing rocky mountain oysters. Returning are host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, featured judges Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot and guest judges including Juniper & Ivy’s Richard Blais.

This will be the second ‘Top Chef’ experience for Zepeda-Wilkins, who previously competed in season two of ‘Top Chef Mexico’. Raised between Tijuana and San Diego, the chef has worked in both the sweet and savory sides of the kitchen; she was a pastry chef before landing the founding chef de cuisine post at Bracero in Little Italy. In early 2017, Zepeda-Wilkins joined Rise and Shine Group (Breakfast Republic, Fig Tree Cafe) and with the hospitality group, is prepping for next year’s opening of El Jardin in Liberty Station, a modern Mexican restaurant inspired by her upbringing and travels in Mexico.

Watch a first-look trailer of the new ‘Top Chef’ season here.