Why Sara Hauman Wants Another Shot At Top Chef - Exclusive

Over the course of its 18 season run, there has been a slew of notable "Top Chef" contestants who never actually won the competition. "Top Chef: Portland" favorite Sara Hauman recently joined that list with her way-too-early-ousting at the dreaded hand of Restaurant Wars (via Bravo). If you're eager to see Hauman make a triumphant return to the show, well, you're not alone.

"I would absolutely compete again," Hauman told Mashed during an exclusive interview. "I think that I don't want to say it awoke a beast, but I think that it was this one time in my life where as adults, you never really ... you push yourself, sure, but it's so hard to push yourself as yourself. When you have someone else pushing you to do something, you oftentimes do these really incredible things. And for me, it was being pushed to the point of not thinking about anything else, every person, everything dropped off the face of the earth for me."

According to Hauman, it's been difficult to move the past incomparable thrill of the competition. "All I was thinking about in that moment was the task at hand and the challenge and the dish that I was doing and I think that's something that I have been craving ever since," she said. "And just that sense of focus and clarity that I got from having nothing else to worry about was very intoxicating for me, kind of like drugs."

Sara Hauman initially turned down 'Top Chef'

Hauman's eagerness to return to "Top Chef" is surprising when you consider the fact that she initially passed on appearing on the cooking competition — multiple times. "So I was one of those rare cases where they actually had approached me about being on the show, and I'm also one of the rare cases where I turned it down for a few years," Hauman revealed. When "Top Chef" first reached out to her, Hauman had just started working under acclaimed chef Melissa Perello at Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant Octavia (via Michelin Guide).  "I think timing is so important," she said. "And in my life personally, it's one of those really big things that I pay attention to, and it really wasn't the right time for me. So in 2020, when I got the text from the casting people that they were casting again ... it seemed like the right time, so I did it."

While Hauman checked out a few episodes of "Top Chef" for research prior to entering the competition, she acknowledged, "watching those previous seasons actually got me a little bit more anxious than I think I needed to be. So I had to stop doing that."

Despite some initial anxiety, Hauman was quickly able to adapt, though she admits that ultimately, she was "flying blind." But if given another opportunity to compete, Hauman will come equipped with an improved game plan. "It's very easy for me to make friends," she said. "I try to keep it friendly, but I think maybe I'd be a bit better of a competitor. I already made my friends, I'm good. Now I'm just coming back to crush it up a little bit."

Be sure to follow Sara Hauman on Instagram and keep an eye out for her upcoming canned seafood line, Tiny Fish.