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Casey Thompson's Pork Belly Just Wasn't Crispy Enough

Casey Thompson and Tom Colicchio, their time at an end
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Like she said yesterday, Casey Thompson will be back in the Shinsei kitchen on Monday -- not the Top Chef after all, not even almost. In the very end, after a give-us-yer-best cook-off during which she came off rattled and umm-ed, Thompson knew she was no longer in the running for the hundred thou and the other goody-goodies. It came down to Dale and Hung, with Hung the winner -- as some suspected from the very first episode, when he emerged as the chef viewers loved to hate. (And, really, how many times last night did Padma Lakshmi begin a sentence with, "Well, Hung ..."?)

Thompson won only the popular vote: With 15 minutes left in last night's extended-dance remix episode on Bravo, it was revealed that 58 percent of those watching the show thought Thompson should be named Top Chef. Which would make her the Al Gore of reality-TV cooking shows; small consolation. A couple of quick notes, then, before we take a break and await Project Runway's return: Thompson told Unfair Park yesterday she has this particular UP post bookmarked on her new Mac, won during the show. "Mean and ugly," she called it, but also "hilarous." We do try.

And yesterday she told us that the whole experience was "a little rattling." She hadn't seen the first two seasons -- "because if I had, I never would have done the show."

"People ask me all the time now, 'Would you do it again?'" she says. "And I don't know. At the beginning, if you asked me that, I would have said no. But now, yeah, I'd do it again. If they wanted me to do something in the future, I would totally do it. I dig it. It was amazing being around so many great, cool talents. ... I mean, I would look around and there was Tré [Wilcox of Abacus], who I adore. He's a role model for everyone, a super-strong chef now being recognized all over the nation. I am so proud to have been a part of it, and sometimes I look back and say to myself, 'You're being recognized for you abilities,' but I try not to look at it like that. It's crazy when people ask me for my autograph. It's strange to me." --Robert Wilonsky

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