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Interview: Casey Thompson On Sam's Club, New Restaurant

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Chef Casey Thompson, she of Top Chef contestantage and now the bustling Brownstone Restaurant in Fort Worth, has taken her talents to the masses (along with several other celebrity chefs) by partnering with Wal-Mart's bulk grocer Sam's Club. Actually, we shouldn't say "bulk," because Thompson told us her partnership with the store is actually meant to alert folks to the fact that they can buy weekly groceries, not just a boatload of toilet paper, at Sam's.

We interviewed Thompson in advance of her appearance at a Plano Sam's Club tomorrow, where she'll be doling out those little Sam's Club sample-size bites of her recipes from noon until 2 p.m., and she talked an awful lot about canned tomatoes before casually letting it drop that she's opening a new restaurant.

On what the heck she's doing shilling for Sam's: "I think what they really wanted was to make a movement toward the fact that the store itself can be used more than just a bulk shopping trip. The way that they wanted to bring this to the forefront was to have chefs show off how to use different ingredients to use a store for weekly meals, instead of toilet paper shopping once a month. They really actually have a wide selection of fresh items. Fresh vegetables and fish and meat and cheeses."

On the recipes--including a migas dish--she's creating for the Sam's Club website: "Some of the recipes that I put in there that show how to incorporate fresh ingredients with bulk can ingredients. I took a case of Hunt's diced tomatoes and extended them: a breakfast dish, an appetizer dish, a lunch dish, just to showcase the fact that you can get the fresh items there. But that's just such a handy item that I used it for two meals in one day. I myself have cans and cans of tomato products in my pantry, but you have to have the fresh ingredients to go along with it."

On the in-store appearance in Plano tomorrow: "I will actually be doing demos this Saturday at the Plano store. It's sampling, just like, the way people always want those samples at Sam's. It'll be fun kind of having the whole 'How many pizza pockets can I eat?'"

And on the Brownstone and that new restaurant project: The Brownstone is one of my many projects, which is awesome because it's doing so great. I absolutely enjoy that restaurant. I'm there one to two weeks out of the month. I'm splitting my time elsewhere, doing these same type of events and charity events and also looking at a second restaurant. It's a completely different concept. I'm trying to do as much as I can in the short time here in this thing called life. I want to get in as much as I possibly can. We're looking at Napa Valley for a spot. It's a temporary concept, looking at catering something toward the wine country."

CORRECTION: Eater Dallas must be hard of hearing, because we misunderstood Thompson during our interview. Her Napa restaurant concept is not, in fact, temporary. Quite the contrary.

· All Casey Thompson Coverage on Eater Dallas [-EDFW-]

Oh, you know, just cooking up something in the yard. [Photo: Courtesy Cohn&Wolf]

Sam's Club

1200 East Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, TX