Although there won't be any Louisiana contestants on Bravo's "Top Chef" this season, look for New Orleans chef Nina Compton to pop in from time to time.

Season 18 of the reality cooking competition series, shot in Portland, Oregon, will premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1.

"For the first time ever, a collection of 'Top Chef' all-star winners, finalists and favorites are joining an elite rotating judging and dining panel including Richard Blais, Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Tiffany Derry, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Edward Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, Amar Santana, Dale Talde and Brooke Williamson," according to a news release. 

In addition, host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons return.

Compton is owner/chef at Compère Lapin in the Warehouse District, and Bywater American Bistro. A native of St. Lucia, she fell in love with the Big Easy while filming "Top Chef's" Season 11, in which she was chosen runner-up and voted fan favorite. She moved to the city in 2015.

In the series, 15 executive chefs and restaurant owners from around the country vie for the "Top Chef" title and $250,000 by squaring off in a variety of challenges.

This season will also feature appearances by José Andrés, Massimo Bottura, Gabriel Rucker and Alice Waters, as well as “Portlandia” stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, "who stop by 'Top Chef' Kitchen for a Quickfire Challenge," the release also said.

This season of “Top Chef,” produced by Magical Elves, will open with two weeks of supersized (75-minute) episodes. Digital companion series “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen,” hosted by Colicchio, will return for Season 10 on Thursday, April 8.

In this one, "the eliminated chefs go head-to-head to try to cook their way back into the competition."

Contestants for the new season are:

Brittanny Anderson, Richmond, Virginia;

Avishar Barua, Columbus, Ohio;

Dawn Burrell, Houston, Texas;

Gabe Erales, Austin, Texas;

Nelson German, Oakland, California;

Byron Gomez, Aspen, Colorado;

Sasha Grumman, Houston;

Roscoe Hall, Birmingham, Alabama;

Sara Hauman, Portland;

Kiki Louya, Detroit, Michigan;

Maria Mazon, Tucson, Arizona;

Shota Nakajima, Seattle, Washington;

Gabriel Pascuzzi, Portland;

Jamie Tran, Las Vegas, Nevada;

Chris Viaud, Milford, New Hampshire

For more information on the cheftestants, go to

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