Episode 28: Ranch Dressing with Casey Thompson

Episode 28: Ranch Dressing with Casey Thompson

Top Chef favorite Casey Thompson joins Katherine to talk about the all-American creation that is ranch dressing. Plus, delicious MSG, questionable buttermilk, Clorox as food company, and Texas pride.

Thompson’s tips on making your own ranch dressing: “It's a tremendous amount of herb chopping, which is a lot of work … chives and parsley, and I actually like cilantro in mine, and chopped cucumber.”

Also, if you get a store-bought packet of the dried ranch herbs, the best thing to do with it is: “sprinkle it on fried chicken.”

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Music: Texas Women, Hank Williams Jr.

Sources:

Slate

Thrillist

Omaha.com

Slate

Transcript:

Katherine: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Smart Mouth, the podcast where we talk to our favorite people about their favorite foods. We're in a park right now, and our guest this week is a toddler. He keeps coming back. Just kidding. Our guest this week is Casey Thompson. She's the executive chef at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and anybody who is listening to this show has definitely seen her on television, as well. Hi, Casey.

Casey: Hi.

Katherine: Thanks so much for being with us.

Casey: Thanks for having me. This is awesome.

Katherine: Of course. We're all in Palm Desert today for the Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival, so it's a little bit of a laid back, you're working, but it's kind of a vacation, or not at all?

Casey: I would say I've been to many food festivals. This is not a working festival. You roll in, they've done all your prep, and you check it, and then you just show it off to people. You make it look good. That's it. It's not working.

Katherine: That sounds really nice, actually.

Casey: It's great.

Katherine: I imagine food festivals being really sweaty for you guys.

Casey: Okay, there's a lot of sweat involved, and that's the gross part, but I think that you just add a little bit more powder and you just move on.

Katherine: Okay. That's a good life tip in general for professional women. Add the powder, get it going. Come on. Your style of cooking is very ... From what I've seen. I've never actually eaten it, but it's all American in this new interpretation of what American is. One thing that I've noticed is that you have this appreciation for wholesome ingredients. I've read interviews where you talk about ranch dressing.

Speaker 3: Marvelous. Marvelous. Enough. I grow weary of your sexually suggestive dancing. Bring me my ranch dressing hose.

Casey: Yep. I have a weakness. Okay? I have a weakness.

Katherine: I wouldn't even call it a weakness, but we can get into that later, because the whole thing is ranch dressing right now has this industrial American food connotation, but it actually started in a much more wholesome place, which I find extremely hard to believe. You're going to tell me it's from ... ?

Casey: Yes. It comes from, there are printed ranch dressing recipes going back to as early as the 1930s.

Katherine: Wow.

Casey: They were from the high plains parts of Texas.

Katherine: All right.

Casey: Yeah.

Katherine: That's more what I was thinking. I feel like Texas has a lot of ... There's a lot of strange things that come from Texas, but I would say that ranch dressing is not one of them.

Casey: Not one of the strange things?

Katherine: Yes.

Casey: What is a strange thing that comes from Texas?

Katherine: Oh, my God, what are those steaks? 82 ounce steaks-

Casey: Just big-ass steaks?

Katherine: Prime rib or whatever. Who eats that? Nobody.

Casey: I feel like they invented cattle culture.

Katherine: That's so sad. Do you eat meat?

Casey: I do eat meat. I have definitely become more conscious about how much meat I'm taking in, and also how much meat I'm serving to people. I feel like it's important just as a chef to say, "Hey, there's so many other things out there that we could be eating. Let's just pause a little bit on the animal protein."

Katherine: How do you do that? Because you have to make money for the restaurant where you work, but you also know what your opinions and your beliefs are. How do you bring those two together?

Casey: It's tough. I actually struggle with that quite a bit. I think it's one of those things where as a chef, like you said, you have to make your customers happy, and there's a demand for what they expect to see when they come in. Here's the draw. You work for somebody. You're going to have to provide a menu that is wanted by the guests that are coming into your restaurant. If you own the restaurant, then you get to do whatever you want. You just have to make it work.

Katherine: Yeah, and then if it fails, it's like, "Oops, sorry, everybody, but it's on me."

Casey: That was a bad idea. Totally.

Katherine: Yeah. The restaurant where you're currently executive chef, it already existed, right?

Casey: Currently, yeah. It currently at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, but it has been a restaurant for over 20 years.

Katherine: That's a long time for a restaurant.

Casey: It's a long time, and they've undergone several renovations and changes. I think that the plan with each owner that's owned this hotel is, "Okay, let's just roll with the punches. Let's grow as we grow." I think this time around they're like, "We've grown, and we need to start making some decisions toward what the next 20 years are going to be."

Katherine: Okay. That's really interesting.

Casey: Yeah, it's fun.

Katherine: That's good that it's fun, because I was going to say do some people see a new chef coming into the place their family has always gone to and flip out if you change anything on the menu?

Casey: I completely expected that and rolled in with an attitude of, "Let's just do your menu. I won't annouce myself, and you won't annouce me, either. We'll go through, and I'll start to swap out ingredients just a little bit here and a little bit there. They'll maybe get some new plates. We're going to do some new plating. We're going to try some new stuff. Maybe you don't need a bowl of pasta with slices of grilled bread on the side. Let's just try to get into the more current day." With doing that, they started to see the changes. I got some pushback, I'm not going to lie, but at the same time they were welcoming to the changes.

Casey: Now it's like, "Okay, you guys want this. I get it, but I'm going to give you this. Let me show you that this can be better," and it's actually worked. I think slow and easy as she goes.

Katherine: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Do you keep a white board in the kitchen of greatest hits, and you're like, "Okay, people are starting to like my dishes?"

Casey: No, but I need to.

Katherine: Yeah. I feel like it would get competitive with myself and wanting to know if people liked my stuff.

Casey: It is, but I'm definitely one of those people and chefs, chefs and a person that doesn't ... I try not to take score. I really say, "Listen, I want to celebrate the successes," and I realize when things are not working. That's the biggest thing a chef has to deal with. It's like, "Look, geez, this is not working. Okay, great. We have to move on. We have to figure it out." I think that the biggest lesson I have learned here is to be humble, and just to come in and don't literally shove food down people's throats. Yeah.

Katherine: That makes sense. You're splitting your time between northern and southern California right now?

Casey: Yes. I live in Napa, which is a little confusing for everyone. I spend half of my time there, half meeting ... I'm usually traveling somewhere else during that time. Then I spend half the month in Rancho Santa Fe. The agreement with them down there is I'm not moving down to San Diego, but I'm going to give you everything I have to make this successful. It's just that as chefs these days, we have so many more projects, and we can't be so sedimentary.

Katherine: Right. You're on your hasn't. Even if you're a known face-

Casey: This is my hustle time.

Katherine: Yeah.

Casey: I'm not going to do this forever. It's hustle now and achieve whatever goals it is you want to set for yourself, and then figure it out later.

Katherine: Do you feel like you're more of a northern California girl, and that's why you're like, "Napa or bust?"

Casey: I just love Napa. That was an interesting question because I pause and I go, "What? Northern California girl?" I'm from Texas. I don't know if you can see the shirt that I'm wearing right now.

Katherine: Under your chef's jacket? Texas girl. Okay, I was wrong. Texas girl. It says on her shirt, guys. There it is.

Casey: Born and raised. No. I love California, I love the weather, I love the food, I love what chefs get to play with there. It's a completely different lifestyle coming from Texas. I did not sell out. It's not like I'm like, "I'm out, Texas." I fell in love with the Bay Area, and I fell in love with what I have to work with.

Katherine: I understand that completely, and I feel like anyone who's been to California for even two seconds gets it. Michelle and I are both California girls. We're like, "Duh, obviously." Texas people have that same kind of pride, right?

Casey: We definitely have that same kind of pride. There's someone that I know that does a golf tournament every year. One of the parts of the golf tournament is God's Country Shootout, and one of the halves of the golf tournament is Texas. We are so prideful. It's like, "We are God's country." Whoever else out there claims that they are, you're wrong. We are God's country.

Katherine: You don't want to argue with a Texan on that point. You're like, "Okay. Okay. Sure. Yeah."

Casey: Got it. Got it.

Katherine: It does actually tie back into ranch dressing, because like I said earlier, earliest written recipes for ranch dressing came from Texas, and yet California gets all the quote-unquote "glory" for it.

Casey: Always. They have better herbs.

Katherine: Yes. That is true. That's a factual point. Hidden Valley Ranch, a real place that exists outside of Santa Barbara. What happened was this guy from Nebraska set out to Alaska to make his fortune. He was working on oil pipelines. Part of the job, I don't quite understand what his entire gig was, but he was also cooking for the whole team that was out in whatever town it was that they were based in. He would like light buttermilk dressing and was tinkering with it. I imagine that it was probably still pretty bad, and then he got to southern California, and then could use those fresh herbs, and he was like, "This is the one."

Casey: He's brilliant. I love it.

Katherine: Yeah. Yeah. Because that's all it is. It's buttermilk and ... Well, in the original incarnation, it's just buttermilk and herbs.

Casey: Buttermilk and herbs?

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey: And then somehow it just transformed into this glorious mayonnaise concoction where any herb goes. Anybody can play here. I love it.

Katherine: Uh-huh (affirmative). That is what has gone on. My favorite, favorite factoid, not just about ranch dressing, but maybe about any food in the world is that everywhere else on the planet, they call ranch-flavored things American flavor.

Casey: Oh. It's amazing because you can either ... Okay, American flavor one, and then you can also say ranch, aka Hidden Valley Ranch. God, they coined that, didn't they?

Katherine: Right.

Casey: Where was I on that?

Katherine: Isn't it funny that when you say ranch, you're like ... We don't even say dressing, and being too fancy by adding dressing to it. Ranch. We're talking about Ranch today.

Casey: Because it's glorious. That's all. That's all there is to say about it. Glorious ranch.

Katherine: Yeah. To your point, there have been multiple lawsuits about using the word ranch and ranch dressing.

Casey: Really?

Katherine: All the big companies, all the food companies are owned by chemical companies.

Casey: Clorox. Hidden Valley.

Katherine: You knew that one?

Casey: I've worked for them. I've been around, right?

Katherine: Yeah. Clorox owns Hidden Valley Ranch. Isn't that weird?

Casey: Yep. Oakland.

Katherine: Really?

Casey: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Katherine: Okay. I didn't even know that that was from Oakland.

Casey: Yeah, long story. Yes, you're right. They own also Kingsford Charcoal and KC Masterpiecee Barbecue. All these things are like, "I'm sorry, are they making it in the same plant as the Clorox?" This is a problem for everyone.

Katherine: They might be. You never know. Industrial food is so crazy. Actually, the history of the ranch dressing, what happened was this Nebraska dude by way of Alaska came to California with his wife. They bought a ranch outside of Santa Barbara and decided to turn it into a guest ranch. They were doing okay, but they were serving the salad dressing, and that's what people ... They'd call up and they'd be like, "We don't actually want to come to the ranch. Can we just stop by and pick up jar?"

Casey: Oh, my God.

Katherine: Maybe we've got the wrong business model here. First they started selling just the spice packets. What they had, the original mix was, there was MSG in it originally.

Casey: I have no problem with MSG.

Katherine: I don't either.

Casey: It's delicious. Have you ever had something without it, and then somebody adds some, just as a taste test, and you go, "What? That's mind-blowing."

Katherine: It's so good. I'm still not ... Okay, I understand that in the '80s, the whole MSG panic about brain lesions and stuff, that was racism. I think just pure and simple panic about Chinese food on the part of white people.

Casey: Yeah, terrible.

Katherine: Because every packaged American food product has MSG.

Casey: No one notices.

Katherine: Yeah.

Casey: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's called monosodium glutamate. No one even just balks at it at all. It's fine. It's fine. It's not called MSG.

Katherine: No. Every time you eat a Dorito, unless you're like, "Oh, I got a brain lesion now," you're fine.

Casey: Take the MSG out of your Dorito, and I swear you're going to be angry. There will be protests.

Katherine: Yes. We will riot in the streets. This will be what finally gets us worked up as Americans. That is enough.

Casey: Ranch and Doritos.

Katherine: Yes, exactly.

Casey: For everyone.

Katherine: Man. Yeah, it's always had MSG in it. It also was salt, dehydrated garlic, parsley, onions, black pepper, and the original packaging did have a preservative in the form of calcium stirate. I don't know if that's how you really pronounce it, but one of the calciums.

Casey: So a powder of some sort? Some crystallizing to keep it from clumping up.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly.

Casey: All right, got it.

Katherine: They would sell the packet and then say, "Mix it with buttermilk at home." At some point, Clorox brought it ... Not at some point. In 1972, Clorox bought Hidden Valley Ranch brand, not the property, for $8 million.

Casey: Geez.

Katherine: Yeah, and that's '70s money. That's a lot. However, the sticking point was the buttermilk, because buttermilk isn't really a thing that American homes or I think any homes just have on hand.

Casey: Not anymore. I would say my grandpa would pour a glass of buttermilk, which would totally put me into tailspin as a child. I was like, "What is happening?"

Katherine: Did you ever try his buttermilk?

Casey: Yeah. It was beyond disgusting, and I still to this day, I love me some ranch, but there's buttermilk, and there's mayonnaise. That's the selling point for me. Even the packet says, "Add a cup of this or that." Sour cream, et cetera. Which tastes like buttermilk.

Katherine: That's what I was going to say. Sour cream and buttermilk have very similar properties. Sour cream is much more pleasant.

Casey: Yeah. No one had a glass of buttermilk, because absolutely ... It separates. It's too much.

Katherine: It's really funny that you're saying that about your grandpa, because I had a friend whose father, who was an older man, he would also have a glass of buttermilk with dinner. I remember just being viscerally upset every time I had dinner at their house.

Casey: It's disgusting.

Katherine: Yeah. What's weird is that there seems to be throughout time and maybe geographically different definitions of buttermilk. Some people, maybe a long time ago, and not so much more recently, it was the byproduct of just churning your own butter. The more liquidy stuff.

Casey: Right, almost the sour component that comes off of the fat, which is really hard to wrap your head around. Yes, sour, and there is that liquid that comes off, what doesn't settle into the solid. Right.

Katherine: Then when you're buying a carton of buttermilk at the store, that's not what that is. That's a different kind of buttermilk, and it's much-

Casey: It doesn't come from the butter churner.

Katherine: No, no, it's not that pure and wholesome and Little House on the Prairie-ish at all.

Casey: I use it for so many things these days it's incredible. Just think about a moist cake, or you think about a marinade or something. If I want to extract gaminess from something, like we use buttermilk in so many areas. I have it current in the refrigerator at home. He laughs because he's like, "Why do we always have to buy such a big thing of buttermilk?" I'm like, "It doesn't come any smaller."

Katherine: When you go to the store they're like, "Here's the buttermilk lady." The only one.

Casey: It's a half gallon every time. I find uses for it.

Katherine: You use it in cooking.

Casey: It calms skin. Yes. Buttermilk is insane.

Katherine: What does it to for your skin?

Casey: You have skin irritants you can soak in buttermilk. What's the ... Bath salts or whatever?

Katherine: Epsom salts?

Casey: Epsom. I guess that's what [crosstalk 00:16:14].

Katherine: You pour it in the bath?

Casey: Yeah. You can soak in buttermilk. You can tenderize your skin.

Katherine: Tenderize your own self with buttermilk.

Casey: Yes.

Katherine: That's amazing.

Casey: Buttermilk is quite intriguing.

Katherine: I do like that in baking, if you don't have buttermilk, you can sub in just a little vinegar. You get that same little bit of-

Casey: That's how we make ricotta.

Katherine: Yeah. Tell me more about that.

Casey: Milk and cream, and then you can add your salt or whatever it is, whatever flavors you want to go with, and then you basically add a little lemon juice, and you're going to start to separate whey and the curds. You get the separation. Then you just let it cook a little bit, keep separating, separating, and then you strain off the curd, and then let the liquid come out from the curd, and then there's ricotta.

Katherine: Oh. Okay.

Casey: Yeah. It's brilliant. You can do buttermilk a little bit more sour. You can do cream and milk. Yeah.

Katherine: I think it's funny that you do not want to drink buttermilk, but you're like, "But it's great."

Casey: Yeah. It stems back to my childhood. Seeing my grandfather drink a glass of buttermilk, I just ... It just gave me the creeps. He also would open a can of stewed tomatoes, and pour it into a bowl and sprinkle sugar on top of it. This was Texas.

Katherine: Your grandpa had some funny eating habits.

Casey: He was very southern, and very old-school. A glass of buttermilk and some stewed tomatoes, get me out of here.

Katherine: Yeah, I feel like I'm going to throw up right now. I can understand why that was upsetting for you.

Casey: I think I just did. It's so gross.

Katherine: And yet you became a chef. How are you not turned off of food entirely?

Casey: I don't know. To a group of 300 people yesterday, I served pig cheeks and literally had the Uber driver tell me on the way here that he heard at this food event, they were serving some weird stuff, and one of them was pig cheeks. It was my dish. He had no idea who I was. I was dying in the back seat. I was like, "Pig cheeks are pretty good, dude, so you should try them one day." I heard, somebody told me, "I don't know. I just want out of here."

Katherine: That is so fantastic.

Casey: That happened.

Katherine: That is the best thing. You didn't slowly zip up your chef's jacket and were pointing to your name on it?

Casey: Amazing. It was quite the most interesting conversation I've ever had with an Uber driver.

Katherine: That is so great. That's fantastic. You're such a weirdo. Why are you trying to serve people that?

Casey: Because it's good, and I know that buttermilk is amazing. If buttermilk makes ranch, I'm in 100%. I will drink a glass. I'll take it for the team.

Katherine: Luckily enough, you don't have to anymore.

Casey: That's true.

Katherine: They changed the formulation because they knew that nobody but Casey was keeping buttermilk in their house, so they're like, "Mayonnaise is fine."

Casey: Wait, did they do different versions? Because sometimes I feel like I go down the ranch aisle, which it is the ranch aisle. We have to go to the ranch aisle, and you can make a dressing, you can make a dip, you can make a buttermilk version. I even saw the other day organic. What? Hidden Valley Organic Ranch. They don't make that at Clorox.

Katherine: Yeah. We could have an hours-long conversation about what organic means, and do we even believe in that kind of labeling?

Casey: Is MSG organic?

Katherine: I feel like it could be.

Casey: It's made from organic material.

Katherine: Exactly. Everything at its core is organic, blah, blah, blah. Yes, there are lots of different varieties of ranch. That has calmed down. It really peaked in the '90s, which I think is when marketing food to children peaked. That was before the government was like, "You got to stop marketing food during cartoons on TV," that sort of thing. This was when it was really at its height. You could buy nacho cheese ranch salad dressing.

Casey: What?

Katherine: Pizza-flavored salad dressing, taco-flavored salad dressing. Yeah. There was really an era of not wanting to let children discover food. It seems like it was actually prohibited to be like, "Well, they're not going to eat it unless you douse it in these chemicals."

Casey: That's really sad.

Katherine: I don't know what we were doing as a culture.

Casey: Clearly not thinking straight.

Katherine: No, I don't think so at all, although even now, I think that ranch dressing especially ... Not store-bought, because with the store-bought now, part of changing the formulation to make it to the packets where it's add mayonnaise instead of add buttermilk was adding more chemicals to the packet.

Casey: I was going to say. And sugar.

Katherine: Yeah, to immitate that more nuanced buttermilk flavor that mayonnaise doesn't have.

Casey: Interesting.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). There's a lot more chemicals in the packets that you would buy now than you would have in the '70s.

Casey: It's probably dehydrated buttermilk.

Katherine: Yeah, you're probably right. Milk solids is what they usually call that sort of thing, right?

Casey: Absolutely.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey: They could take it any direction they wanted to. They just dehydrate it and put it in the packet, which by the way makes a really good seasoning if you just sprinkle a little bit on a piece of fried chicken, ranch. It's delicious.

Katherine: That's a really good tip.

Casey: There you go.

Katherine: Awesome. Could you ... ? As I said it, I'm like, "People probably do this all the time." Roasted vegetables, you mix the olive oil.

Casey: Absolutely. If you have that big of a lever, you must try it. Yeah, you have to.

Katherine: That seems like not a terrible idea.

Casey: I have a question for you.

Katherine: Yeah?

Casey: Is ranch made for iceberg lettuce, or was iceberg made for ranch dressing? Which came first, chicken or the egg?

Katherine: That's a real brain teaser. They go so well together.

Casey: I don't know which one came first, but I think that's a whole other podcast we could have.

Katherine: Yeah. I think iceberg came first, but it truly didn't reach its full form until ranch was here to elevate it.

Casey: No one even knew what it was. They were like, "Lettuce schmettuce. We want ranch." Then when ranch was born, it was like, "There is this lovely being called iceberg lettuce." I truly believe that's the way it happened.

Katherine: It was created just to be a delivery vehicle for more ranch.

Casey: That's all it is. Everything is. Carrot sticks.

Katherine: Why would we have baby carrots if not just for ... ?

Casey: The nubs.

Katherine: It's like an extra finger. It's a finger you can eat.

Casey: Beside your own.

Katherine: Right, because it's socially inappropriate to dip your finger in the dip. That's why you need a baby carrot for.

Casey: Absolutely.

Katherine: Also, I think raw broccoli comes straight from Satan, and the only reason people think they like it is because they're dipping it in ranch.

Casey: It has all of those little facets in which to catch the ranch, so they're like, "Okay, this is person the best vehicle I could have, just because it catches so much ranch."

Katherine: I don't know why I really like cooked broccoli, but raw broccoli, I would throw it out the window. I think it's the foulest thing that ever ... Normally I'm like, "Raw vegetables, sure." Broccoli, man, Mm-mm (negative). No. Not at all. Rude.

Casey: Even if it were, "This is all you're going to get for your last meal before we execute you or something," they're like, "Here's broccoli."

Katherine: Why would I want to ruin my memories of life by eating raw broccoli?

Casey: What if they were like, "We're going to give you ranch?"

Katherine: The secret is I'm actually not that into ranch.

Casey: What?

Katherine: I know.

Casey: Why are we even having this conversation?

Katherine: Because you are, and I try to be nice to my guests.

Casey: This is amazing.

Katherine: I do think it's interesting that ranch became popular in California, but from my understanding, it's mostly popular in the midwest, that it's truly part of midwestern culture to eat ranch.

Casey: I could see that.

Katherine: This of course is all anecdotal, but I made of asking all my friends who were originally from the midwest, Indiana, Wisconsin, that sort of place. The story about women carrying individual packets of ranch in their purses is not a lie. It's true. We've got a nod from the audience. Yes.

Casey: What do you mean?

Katherine: Packets of ranch, you know like you would get at a-

Casey: Chick-fil-A?

Katherine: Fast food? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just the little individual packets like ketchup, but it's ranch packets, and you keep it in your purse so that if you were to find yourself at a restaurant that for some reason didn't have ranch or you were embarrassed to ask for more, you had your own.

Casey: Okay, I've never gone that far. I've carried salt, I've carried hot sauce, I've carried pepper, I've carried spice, but I've never carried ranch. Now I feel like I've missed out on a huge part of life. There were so many salads that were lackluster, could have used a packet of range.

Katherine: Yeah.

Casey: Damn it.

Katherine: You've still got time. You could add that to your lifestyle now.

Casey: I'm only halfway done.

Katherine: Yeah, exactly. There you go. Yeah.

Casey: Okay. Packets of ranch. Somebody write that down. Thank you.

Katherine: Do you make your own ranch? You use buttermilk for other things, but do you use it for ranch?

Casey: I do make it in the restaurant. It has different flavors like cucumber, dil, some things like that that I just need it to pop just a little bit more than your average Hidden Valley, which even though now I think that they've even gone that way-

Katherine: Yeah, you can get-

Casey: Cucumber ranch? I'm a little scared of that.

Katherine: It seems so superfluous. I don't know. I think because I think of the type of salads that would have ranch dressing in them are all the light and watery vegetables.

Casey: Already have cucumber? Yes. Quite honestly when I dip a cucumber in ranch, it just slides off. That is not the best vehicle.

Katherine: It's too wet and floppy.

Casey: Yeah. Ew.

Katherine: Yeah, gross, right?

Casey: But it's good blended into the ranch, and so for that reason, I make it. It's a tremendous amount of herb chopping, which is a lot of work. If I need to make four gallons of ranch for a restaurant, you think about all the chives and parsley, and I actually like cilantro in mine. It's all of the things that you have to chop.

Katherine: You know that's a bold claim, adding cilantro to it.

Casey: Okay, so there are two people in the world. One that love cilantro, and those that absolutely despise. If you come into the restaurant and you go, "God, I hate the ranch here," you're definitely on the no cilantro side.

Katherine: Right. Right. Apparently it tastes like soap to them. It's some enzyme thing.

Casey: Grass or something. Something that people absolutely despise, but me? Can't get enough.

Katherine: I know. It's the best.

Casey: I could just sit here and eat-

Katherine: Yeah, I'm really glad that I don't hate cilantro, because I think that guacamole is improved greatly. Guacamole is perfection, but it's even more perfection if there's cilantro.

Casey: I'm with you.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Are there any foods that you can't eat? Not allergic to. Foods that you just won't eat.

Casey: There is one. There is one food that I despise, and it's a bean sprout. I can't do it.

Katherine: I hate bean sprouts, too.

Casey: You do?

Katherine: What is the fucking point of beat sprouts?

Casey: What the hell are they?

Katherine: Yeah.

Casey: They don't get sun. They're sick looking. They have that little nubby on the top that's brown or yellow. I don't know if it's old or not. It just looks disgusting, and they taste like dirt. I don't care if they provide crunch. I'll add peanuts, I don't care, for crunch. I'm not eating bean sprouts. Why do they feel like that's a really good filler at Thai restaurants?

Katherine: I know. I actually have gotten to the point where when I'm ordering Vietnamese, I'll type in, "No beat spouts, please."

Casey: Me, too.

Katherine: I add the please because I'm like-

Casey: I do, too!

Katherine: [crosstalk 00:27:16]. Please don't be mad at me.

Casey: Because you know what they do. They just fill it with something else. "Oh, they don't want bean spouts? Fine. They're getting bamboo shoots." It's like, "What?"

Katherine: Yeah, but at least it's not a filler that we hate and can't deal with, and have to take off.

Casey: I say, "Please." That's amazing.

Katherine: Yeah. You hope that if you add please, they're like, "Oh, it's not just every customer who ... " I think it's easy when it's disembodied for a customer to be like, "That's not a real human reading this."

Casey: We're trying not to insult a culture.

Katherine: Yeah, yeah, exactly. If you're like, "Please, I beg of you, human to human-"

Casey: "I hate these things." Now if I'm doing it and you're doing it, there's two of us out there, and they're like-

Katherine: At least two of us.

Casey: "God."

Katherine: We could probably start a club. It might be an underground thing, though.

Casey: 86 Bean Sprouts. Nobody needs them. They're weird. Let's get rid of them.

Katherine: We can all get tattoos that's a bean sprout with a cross across it.

Casey: Yes.

Katherine: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that would be good.

Casey: Brook Williamson.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey: You know who she is?

Katherine: She's been on this podcast.

Casey: She gets radishes, and I'll get no bean sprouts.

Katherine: She adds radishes to everything?

Casey: She has radishes all over her arms, but I'll get no beans. I've been trying to think of a tattoo that I need.

Katherine: So that you can fit in with the ... ?

Casey: When I look at her, she's got all these cool ones, and I'm like ... But nothing really in my life I need to represent on my arms, but that's one.

Katherine: You don't have any tattoos?

Casey: I have one. It was a super regret.

Katherine: Really?

Casey: I wish it wasn't there. I'll get to that one day where it's like, "I'm just going to have that removed." Like, "Oh, let's get drunk, get a tattoo." That happened.

Katherine: Were you like 20?

Casey: Yeah, no, I was in college, and I was with my sorority girls and like, "Hey, who's drunk enough to have him give us a tattoo?" One girl was so drunk, she couldn't even get one. He's like, "Not her."

Katherine: Oh, my gosh.

Casey: Yeah, that happened.

Katherine: That kind of night.

Casey: Yeah, there were supposed to be four of us. Now there's three.

Katherine: May I ask, is it a tramp stamp?

Casey: Hell, no. I was never that stupid. Nope.

Katherine: You never know. You want one that's more chefy?

Casey: No.

Katherine: No?

Casey: I don't want one, but if I did, I would get no bean sprouts.

Katherine: Okay, I get it. I think you should also get ... This is all about me.

Casey: Ranch?

Katherine: If I even get a tattoo, it's going to the an outline of the state of California. You can do one of Texas.

Casey: I like it. I like it. I might just get a necklace, a couple earrings.

Katherine: That's also a nice idea that's a little less painful and less permanent.

Casey: Less permanent is key.

Katherine: Yeah.

Casey: Because the one I have is like, "Oh. Why?"

Katherine: Are you going to tell us what it is, or is it too embarrassing to even say?

Casey: My other half calls it the BK Broiler. It's a crown. It's embarrassing. BK Broiler. I live with that.

Katherine: That's really ... I actually think there's a certain beauty in that, and maybe the fact that you got the Burger King logo on your body is why you cook such wholesome food now. You know what I mean?

Casey: Yeah. Clean it up.

Katherine: You had this mental reaction against it.

Casey: Clean it up.

Katherine: I like it. I think you should keep it. You can decide in your head that it's very meaningful.

Casey: It's here to stay for now.

Katherine: Yeah. Yeah. Are you going to do you eventually when you retire stay in California, or is it back to Texas?

Casey: I do not see myself going back to Texas. I love, love, love it there. Look, my parents are there. My best friends in life are there, but I just don't see myself living there again. I think life is funny, and sometimes you find yourself making decisions, but I love California. I guess call me California girl. That's fun, because I've been here seven years now. I cook the ingredients here. I'm in the Bay Area. I'm in LA a tremendous amount, and I'm in San Diego. I'm up and down this coast. We have done road trips. We traveled. We just enjoyed it. It's awesome. I love it here. It's crazy here.

Casey: People are so opinionated, and it's awesome, and everybody has their own view. I love being a part of that. It's not just one way. It's everybody's way.

Katherine: Yeah. I think California is a good place.

Casey: It's a great place.

Katherine: Yeah. Is there social media channel where people should follow you and keep up on your goings on?

Casey: I do all the mainstream. I'm on Twitter and Instagram. Those two are ChefCaseyT, and on Snapchat, I do TheCaseyT, TheChefCaseyT I think it is, because I just wanted to say that there's only one.

Katherine: Right, of course.

Casey: Pretty much I think if you find me there or at ChefCaseyThompson on my fan page on Facebook.

Episode 29: Restaurant History with Jacques Pepin

Episode 29: Restaurant History with Jacques Pepin

Episode 27: American Chop Suey with Doree Shafrir

Episode 27: American Chop Suey with Doree Shafrir