More Top Chef Mania: Casey Speaks!


This is the last of the interviews from our beloved Top Chef finalists. After all is revealed, we will speak to guest judge Rocco DiSpirito so we can further analyze this cultural event to death before falling into a winter of aching pining. Although, that new show where couples teach each other to do their jobs and then criticize each other until they get divorced sounds pret-ty good.

Unsurprisingly, Casey was the cheftestant most careful with her words, and therefore, not quite the ball of laughs that Hung and Dale were, but that’s women for ya. She spent a lot of time giggling to her boyfriend of six years, who was in the room with her. After six years, how can there be that much to giggle about?

Anyhoo, when I asked Casey how she was handling the suspense, she said “Well, it’s been interesting.” Apparently, her restaurant in Dallas has been flooded with Top Chef fans, who pose for photos with her whenever she makes an appearance in the dining room. “My cooks are just looking at me, like, ‘We hate you.’ I can’t really go out in the dining room anymore, because it’s like, I can’t get away and back to the kitchen.”

I told Casey that her buddy Dale had described her as a spitfire. She said “I do think it’s true. I was telling a friend recently, I’m pretty proud of the way I came across. I wouldn’t want to say anything my mother would be ashamed of.”

She says that the people around her, especially her boyfriend, keep her grounded, and don’t let her think she’s hot shit or become too obsessed with the show. Her boyfriend says something in the background, inducing some aforementioned giggling. “He says he’s OK with his K-Fed status,” she reports. Cute.

Her favorite guest judge was Anthony Bourdain. “I just absolutely adore him.”

Casey seems to be keeping a cool head about whether she wins or not. “I’ve been too busy working to be really upset,” she said. “Of course it would be completely, totally awesome to win, but I know that success will come out of it either way.”

If she does win, she says she’ll be back at work on Monday, but would plan some trips. “I wanna eat everywhere. I really, really wanna go to Spain for some reason. I’m obsessing about Spain.” But also, “Shoot, Oktoberfest would be cool,” and she wants to visit Thailand as well, and to the Olympics in China. “I’m going to have to get a serious work-out plan.”

So, how real is the tension between Hung and the others? It’s hard to get a straight answer on this one, but Casey felt like Hung was a lot more “tightly-wound” in Miami than he was in Aspen. “He was asking me all these questions when we first got to Aspen, and I was like, he’s sizing me up,” she said. But as the taping went on, she says the two of them actually had fun hanging out, “talking about normal stuff. There’s no serious tension. Just because the guy doesn’t have the same social skills as I do doesn’t make him a bad guy.”

But then again, when Hung joked with her after the Eric Ripert-trout-challenge, about the fact that they had used some of the same ingredients in their dishes, she couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t totally kidding. Whatever, Hung rules.