Food & Drink

Casey Thompson, John Tesar headed back to ‘Top Chef’

Dallas chef John Tesar and former Fort Worth and Dallas chef Casey Thompson in a photo from the premiere episode of the upcoming season of Top Chef. The season, premiering Dec. 1 on Bravo, pits eight returning “cheftestants” (including Tesar and Thompson) against eight “newbies” on the show.
Dallas chef John Tesar and former Fort Worth and Dallas chef Casey Thompson in a photo from the premiere episode of the upcoming season of Top Chef. The season, premiering Dec. 1 on Bravo, pits eight returning “cheftestants” (including Tesar and Thompson) against eight “newbies” on the show. Paul Cheney

Two DFW-linked chefs — one still in the market, one not — will make return appearances to Bravo’s Top Chef, which is scheduled to begin its new season Dec. 1.

Casey Thompson, who previously appeared on season three of Top Chef and later on Top Chef All-Stars, will be making her third go-round on the show. Thompson is currently executive chef at Inn at Rancho Santa Fe in Napa Valley, but she is known in Fort Worth as the first chef of Brownstone, a pioneering but short-lived restaurant in the West 7th development.

Actually, Brownstone lasted from 2010 to 2013, which isn’t exactly “short-lived” in restaurant time these days, especially in the tough West 7th area. She left the restaurant in October 2011, more than two years before it closed in November 2013. By that time, although it still had a full kitchen menu, its owners had been promoting it as more of a nightspot. (Thompson had also worked at Shinsei in Dallas.)

Brownstone was on a corner of Currie and Crockett Streets that is now occupied by Social House. It’s a tough intersection: AF+B quickly came and went (its corner is now occupied by Cork & Pig Tavern), and chef Jon Bonnell recently announced that he is moving his Waters Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine out of West 7th and in to a downtown Fort Worth location.

Thompson placed third in season three of Top Chef and returned for Top Chef All-Stars, where she was felled by her preparation of chicken feet during a dim sum challenge. The All-Stars episode aired while she was still at Brownstone.

John Tesar, who was once called The Most Hated Chef in Dallas in a D Magazine cover story, is also returning for the new season, which will pit eight former “cheftestants” (announced Thursday) seeking “redemption: against eight new ones announced last week. Although Tesar had his arrogant moments on Top Chef: Seattle, non-North Texans might remember him more for the unusual way he perched his eyeglasses on his forehead during much of the season.

Tesar has run Knife, a “modern steakhouse” in the Highland Dallas hotel at Central Expressway and Mockingbird Lane, since 2014. According to his website, he plans to open other Knifes (Knives?) nationwide. He also has plans to open Knife Burger in Plano’s multi-restaurant Legacy Hall in 2017. (Although Knife is a high-end steakhouse, it has received praise for its burgers from Texas Monthly as well as others, including lil’ ol’ DFW.com.) Tesar is also working on a book, Knife: Steakhouse Meals at Home, to be published in spring 2017.

Tesar formerly ran Spoon, a Dallas seafood restaurant, and has been posting on social media that he plans some Spoon pop-ups in coming weeks. We hadn’t finished writing this post when we received an offical release saying that the pop-ups will take place will take place on Oct. 28, Nov. 9, Nov. 14 and on Nov. 17 “for a special John Tesar birthday dinner.” More pop-ups will happen during the holiday season. Sating is really limited: 16 people per dinner. Locations TBA. “Each dinner is priced at $135 per person or $200 including wine pairings, gratuity not included. Tickets go on sale at 2 p.m. Friday — if you’re interested, go here.

He just did a collaboration dinner with Bonnell, celebrating the 15th annivesary of Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, at Central Market Fort Worth (in contrast to D calling Tesar the Most Hated Chef in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas magazine once did a cover story calling Bonnell The Most Loved Chef in Fort Worth — this pairing sounds like a reality-TV show that needs to be made).

Since his Top Chef: Seattle run, Tesar has also become known for his Twitter rant against Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner after her less-than-rave review of Knife. It even got the attention of such non-DFW outlets as The Washington Post. That’s even more reality TV than Tesar’s season on Top Chef was. Can’t imagine it will come up on this season. No, really, can’t. Honest.

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