Chef Ed Cotton Weighs in on the Top Chef All Stars’ Star Turn on Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon draws on his experience blowing his lines on SNL to help him blow out his birthday candles.

Chef Ed Cotton is back in the kitchen at Plein Sud in Manhattan and back with OpenTable, sharing his thoughts on the latest episode of Top Chef Season 8.

Fondue! At OpenTable, our most romantic restaurant lists always include fondue places and we get a bit of ribbing over that. I love it, tho’ — especially at Artisanal! What are your thoughts on fondue? Is it romantic? Have you made it?

I love fondue! I actually just purchased a fondue set for my house from Staub Cookware. I worked at a restaurant in Boston called No. 9 Park, and we used to have a gorgonzola cheese fondue with grilled leg of lamb that was marinated in black olive paste, served with a side of brioche croutons. That was a great dish! Fondue is romantic, but you have to be smart about what you serve and pair it with. And, now I want fondue; thanks a lot!

Peer judging. Marc Forgione went through a bit of that on The Next Iron Chef and he said that he was always honest, but I got the impression from watching that some of his colleagues did “game” their judgments on their co-competitors’ food. What do you think about it on Top Chef? Does the ballot situation help?

I was always very honest during my season when talking about someone and his or her food. We had an opportunity once or twice to talk openly about our competitors in front of each other. Yes, it can hurt their feelings, but if you know how to turn constructive criticism into something positive, then I am all for it. The ballot situation does help; it was interesting.

Does anyone else besides me think the cellphone shootout is stupid? Anyone?

Whose fondue looked best? I am shocked that Angelo is on top. What the heck? I thought that Antonia’s felt closer to fondue than Dale’s. He made soup!

I liked Antonia’s fondue the best. It had a story behind it and that is what makes for a soulful dish. Dale put a spin on his and I would order something like that in a restaurant. Only I would call it …Shabu-shabu.

Exactly! I’m glad Fabio is so happy to see Jimmy Fallon. I’m not. I’m getting a little tired of the stunt celebrity judges. And, this shootout seems dumb and like a time suck. Anyway, who drew something you’d want to make — and something you wouldn’t want to make?

I was very surprised to see all the chefs on the Jimmy Fallon show. My first reaction was, wow, these chefs are having more fun than we did on our season! I think it was a creative spin to find out what you were going to cook with the cell phone shoot out. I would have liked to get the pulled pork or the hamburger. If I had the chicken and dumplings, I would have been bummed.

Carla uses her melon to make a masterful chicken pot pie.

Can you talk about how catering a party differs from working BOH at a restaurant?

I have done quite a bit of catering in my career. I worked catering for Daniel Boulud with his Feast and Fetes Company when I worked for him. Catering is a whole other animal all together and is very challenging. You have to be quick and resourceful. You are working in unfamiliar places the majority of the time and anything can happen.  In a real kitchen, you know where everything is and it is comforting. You have everything you need in a restaurant, especially a full pantry, so if you run out of something, you can bounce back faster. At a catered event, you might leave an item in the pantry and then you can’t go back and have to adapt.

Who hates mushrooms, mayonnaise and eggplant? Pffft. Okay, everyone’s entitled to her or his opinion. Are there any foods that you eschew?

I personally hate mayo; I never enjoyed using it or eating it. I don’t get as worked up as Jimmy Fallon about it, but it’s not on the top of my favorite list. The thing I hate and will never order in a restaurant ever is shad roe! Man, I don’t know how anyone can eat that. When I was younger and working at a restaurant in Lexington, Massachusetts, I had a dish with shad roe on the menu. I hated looking at it and cooking it, and yet it seemed to be very popular with all the old folks.Gross!

I don't care what the judges say, Fabio. You'll always be Top Chef -- and Top Scallop -- to me!

What up with Dale’s mancrush on Angelo?

There isn’t a man crush. It is just two guys that worked have with each other before, who happen to be friends and are having fun.

I’ll bet Tom was glad he was sporting a flavor saver as he was eating Carla’s chicken pot pie! Okay, that sounds dirty, but I don’t mean it like that. What I do mean is that she wins — and it looks like deservedly so.

Carla was lucky all around! She wanted the chicken pot pie from the get-go and she got it. Someone was on her side that day. I have never seen anyone get that worked up about chicken pot pie before in my life.

You haven’t seen my husband light up at the sight of chicken pot pie! So, I had a feeling that burger was going to be Fabio’s ticket home. I’m crushed because he’s the most entertaining person on this show. I wish it would’ve been Dale! He is truly humorless (except, apparently, when he’s ogling Angelo).

Dale squeaked by on this one after the Salt Fest 2011 that was his cheese steak sandwich; actually, they all did. All three chefs in the bottom didn’t really cook the best that they have ever cooked before. Fabio is entertaining, but he bombed with that burger. I thought Dale was going to go home, and Fabio was going to stick around. To his credit, Fabio left on a very professional note and seemed to accept the fact he was going home. I actually really thought Angelo was going to win this one with his pulled pork, which proves, one again, that you can’t ever predict what’s going to happen.

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