The latest incarnation of Top Chef includes an all-star cast of former cheftestants. So, we thought it only fitting to watch along each week with someone with intimate knowledge of the show and some of the contenders. Enter Ed Cotton, Executive Chef of New York’s Plein Sud, a restaurant located in the chic Smyth Hotel in Tribeca, where he serves offers affordable and authentic Brasserie-style cuisine. Cotton was a finalist on season 7 of Top Chef.
Ed, you came very close to a win on Top Chef. What lessons did you learn from the competition? Did you incorporate any criticism into the food you serve?
I felt great being in Singapore and competing for the title of Top Chef. I challenged and pushed myself in ways that I never had before. One basic rule that I was constantly reminded of during the competition was to try not to do so much on one plate. Chef Eric Ripert mentioned that I showed great workmanship and technique, but he thought I could have used fewer ingredients. I have taken Chef Riperts’s comments to heart, and when I put together new dishes at my restaurant Plein Sud, I always ask myself, “Is that extra ingredient really necessary?” So, yes, to this day, I incorporate the constructive criticism I received on Top Chef into every dish that I serve at my Tribeca establishment.
Are you interested in competing again?
Yes, I would love to compete again! I have always been an extremely competitive person especially when it came to cooking and food. Knowing what I know now, I think that I could pull off a win if I was fortunate enough to go on another Top Chef journey.
Will you root for — or against — Angelo? Are you guys friends off-camera?
That’s a good question….are you trying to get me in trouble? I will cheer him on just as much as my other chef friends on All Stars this season. We saw each other a few weeks ago, when we both participated in the TrueFlavors Cook-Off in Washington, DC for True Child, a national organization committed to helping children break through stereotypes. There will always be a competitive vibe between us. I am not going to root again him…but I do hope that these challenges give him a run for his money.
Tune in later today for our first recap featuring Ed’s expert insights!