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Back in the Saddle

Season 3's Casey Thompson remembers her experience, and looks forward to an exciting new season.

By Casey Thompson

Wow! Back in the saddle! At least this time around, it's more comforting knowing I have one foot in the saddle AND one foot out! I've missed the cat-like smirk on Padma's face as she would introduce our death dejour. And I have also missed the familiar, comforting, yet ever present no-bullsh*t Chef Collichio (Does anyone else feel is NOT playing around this season!?) break it down to us in layman's terms.

How to Watch

Watch Top Chef Season 21 Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

I recall the first uncomfortable union of everyone. Laid before you, the very food stuffs on which you will create your first masterpiece to show the world what you are made of! Or not.... Oh, what a very awkward time this is -- soul-searching the room, taking in the mindless, nervous chatter. Who will be the chef that will be sent home first, or eventually outcook you, or simply just drive you batty. They are all there, and you have just found yourself in a culinary time warp. Let the games begin ....

... Here comes my insider tip to Season 5: "When they feed you your first meal together, pay attention! You will be using that food to write your own destiny! Doesn't anyone in the room realize this???

Where do I begin -- with the crusts of loaves of bread, stolen pizza pans, no salt, Chicago-ens that have never made deep-dish pizzas?! What the hell is going on here? And, did I just see Hung or does someone on Season 4 really remind me of him? I have to admit I did chuckle a bit when some of these pizzas were removed from their pans. I was thinking, "Aw, man this is gonna be GREAT! AND, they had to carry the pizza delivery bag?! Then ... DING DONG! Rocco DiSpirito! "Well, hello there!" Nice house! And, is that Padma playing pool in the living room?

Pizza is perfect for this party, and here they come now ....

I think the safest bet here is to stay with what you know. Cheese, protein, and something to set it aside from the rest. The majority followed this minimalist form while others veered off the course and crashed. What we learned: Peaches and grapes DO belong on pizza; stay away from the "deep, deep dish", and Marmite makes a pretty tasty ingredient. Now THAT is an ingredient that will set you apart from the rest! I'm loving the locker full of ingredients from home -- this is going to get interesting ....

For the Elimination, I will have to start off by saying that the idea of splitting the group and putting them head to head was GENIUS! Where was that idea when I was playing? I could tell from the list on the chalkboard there was some serious thinking going on in that kitchen. I am pretty sure the thinking went something like this, "Holy crap -- where do they keep the mayonnaise in this kitchen?" I thought that the pairings went fairly well. Richard and Andrew ... perfect. What I found entirely interesting was Richard telling Andrew how to make mayonnaise and then pulling out a STORE-BOUGHT jar to make his smoky, smoke cake. WHY DON'T YOU MAKE YOUR OWN?? I had to pause after that. Store-bought? That was such a showcased ingredient. Ha!

Apparently souffles don't rise in Chicago. Well, it is the windy city -- but fixing it with tortilla chips was probably not the best idea. And can we please refer to CHEF ANTHONY BOURDAIN in a more respectful way other than "Tony?" The chefs today, I tell ya .... Lisa poaches her eggs, "a little better." Poor Nimma forgot the salt in her Quickfire but made up for it in the Elimination. And Brian totally blanked on Chicken Picatta -- that's OK; I bet now he will never forget.

Congratulations to Stephanie on the win -- that plate did look tasty. And better luck next time, Nimma. Don't beat yourself up -- there were others that got lucky and received a pass. We all know how that ends up ....

I can't wait for the next show!!! I am on the edge of my counter!

Good eating and better wines! Cheers!

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