"Top Chef's" new season is taking a California road trip and for the first time, San Diego is on the map.
The popular Bravo reality TV show, which has turned "cheftestants" like Richard Blais, Michael Voltaggio and Brian Malarkey into celebrity chefs, returns for its 13th season with a two-night premiere on Dec. 2 and 3, the cable channel announced Monday.
San Diego is one of six cities the show visited during filming, and the region's strong cross-border culinary scene is sure to be highlighted. Chef Chad White, of Común Kitchen & Tavern in San Diego's East Village and La Justina in Tijuana, is one of 17 contestants vying for the potential career-making title of "Top Chef."
Also making an appearance in the San Diego episode(s) is star chef Javier Plascencia, who has restaurants across Baja California and two in San Diego, including Bracero Cocina de Raíz in Little Italy.
With the area's emerging dining scene and one of the show's judges based in San Diego - Blais is owner of Little Italy's Juniper & Ivy and winner of "Top Chef All Stars" - it was logical for the show to film here for the first time. Episodes were also set in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Oakland.
Like all reality shows, "Top Chef" is hyper-secretive about result spoilers, so few specifics were revealed on the San Diego challenge or how far White reached in the competition. (He does appear in a promo for the new season, usually a good sign.) This reporter attended a taping of one of the episodes on the condition that certain details would only be published closer to the air date of the San Diego episode(s).