Yesterday, we gave you an in-depth profile of Casey Thompson, Top Chef star, former executive chef at Shinsei and currently parking her toque at Fort Worth's Brownstone. Today, we lob a few questions her way, yielding such important personal tidbits as her fondness for The Kings of Leon and The Office. Tomorrow we'll run one of Thompson's favorite recipes that, coming from a native Texan, naturally involves a big slab o' beef.
City of Ate: Who are the chefs you look up to? Thompson: Locally, as I worked for Dean Fearing for years, I definitely admire how he never deviated from his Southern roots. I also love that Eric Ripert (executive chef at New York's Le Bernardin) is focusing on using only sustainable fish, which is an incredible feat to pull off.
CofA: The one person you would dream of cooking for would be? Thompson: I would adore cooking for [the late] Julia Child because I so admire her. I would make something ridiculously French such as coq au vin, cause, honestly, I make a pretty solid one. And we'd share an amazing bottle of Bordeaux and just laugh.
CofA: Most horrifying moment in the kitchen? Thompson: It was on Top Chef and I was supposed to do a simple "quick fire" challenge using citrus. I tried to make a Key lime pie in 20 minutes, which is fast, and I overworked the Key limes so that the entire citrus broke and curdled the cream. My mind went blank as I had a minute to throw something together. So with a mixer I dumped the curdled mess with some more cream and I made whipped cream out of it. Then I added some cookies I bought at the store, along with star fruit, and I came up with some kind of citrus smore. The judges ended up thinking it was quite good.
CofA: How did you come to pick Fort Worth as your location for Brownstone? Thompson: Now while growing up in Dallas, there was never a very strong reason -- other than to visit the Stockyards or see the museums or the zoo -- to come to Fort Worth. But then with the emergence of the West 7th Street development, my eyes started to open up to Fort Worth's possibilities. Clearly, while I was away on the West coast, Fort Worth had experienced a tremendous amount of growth. And Fort Worth has always had a very distinctive character, its identity has always been fun and cool and I had this feeling there was a new and different movement going on among the Fort Worth chefs.
CofA: Do you enjoy cooking on camera? Thompson: Yes. I like the challenge of not only being comfortable in what you are saying but also making it entertaining.
CofA: What is the kind of cooking show personality you would like to embody? Thompson: I think of myself as a cross between a more serious Giada De Laurentiis, a not-as-quirky Rachael Ray, and a bit more lively and, hopefully, as informative Ina Garten.
CofA: What kind of cooking show do you think you would like to do? Thompson: Along with teaching more about the lost art of butchery, I think there is a place for a true show on Texas-style barebcue. It's just inherently interesting to people out there, to find out more about smokers, the different kinds of woods and those big cuts of beef like ribs or brisket. And everyone seems to love Texas barbecue.
CofA: Your favorite comfort foods? Thompson: I love a big bowl of pasta -- toothsome bucatini with a Bolognese sauce. I love Thai and Indian cooking -- the herbaciousness of Thai cooking, the varied spices and flavors of Indian cuisine.
CofA: Is there a current cooking fad that you think has thankfully run its course? Thompson: Foams. I think they are pretty much gone. You might see some bubbles but you won't see foam, and I'm so OK with that because people made such fun of it.
CofA: What do you do for exercise away from the kitchen? Thompson: I like to run.
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CofA: And in your downtime in general, what do you like to do? Thompson: I catch up on my shows: Modern Family, Boardwalk Empire, and The Office. I look to read as many books as I can and travel whenever I can.
CofA: And music? Thompson: I have certain play lists that I enjoy. It really depends on my mood: Kings of Leon, Band of Horses, Ryan Bingham.
CofA: Your next local restaurant project will be? Thompson: I hope to put into motion a place built around proteins -- whether beef, fish or lamb -- and have a store connected to it. I don't see myself doing another ethnic cuisine but rather staying true to my roots.
CofA: A slightly morbid last question: In ordering your last meal, what will you have? Thompson: A grass-fed rib eye from Argentina, foie butter, perfectly crispy French fries, and a glass of 1961 Petrus.