Ed Cotton Talks Top Chef: Fryer Fires, Pork Sashimi + Kenny Gilbert Grudge Match

Former model Carla Hall makes this isla muy bonita!

Tick tock. Tick tock. The clock is winding down in this season of Top Chef. We talked to Plein Sud Executive Chef (and former Top Chef finalist) Ed Cotton once again about all the goings on in last week’s episode of everyone’s favorite cooking competition.

Ed, in a QFC such as this, who would you most want to face off against one more time from your season? Also, Tiffany’s got Kevin! Whoa!

I would love to up against Kenny Gilbert! He was a beast in the kitchen and went home too soon on our season. Really, he was a threat to us all.

Mike competes against Mike Voltaggio! Carla’s up against Hosea. And we’ve got a menage a trois going with Stephanie vs. Antonia vs. Richard. What are your first thoughts on these pairings? Which returning chef scares you most? And, why does Hosea feel like he has to prove something?

I thought the pairings of chefs was great. For me Mike V. would have been the most intense and challenging chef returning.  I was also waiting for Richard to destroy Stephanie from his season. He should have won that season, hands down. As far as Hosea, everyone was super confused why he won in the first place and made it as far in the competition as he did. I am sure he gets tired of people telling him that he shouldn’t have won his season. So, that’s probably why he wanted to win this challenge.

Veal. Duck. Leg of lamb. Pork! Which QFC ingredient do you want most — and least?

"I'm not playing beer pong, Padma. Quarters? Yes! Beer Pong? NO!"

I would have wanted veal or pork. No lamb. I love working with veal – it is tender, light, and flavorful. Veal is a meat that can truly pick up the flavors that you pair with it.

Why were they cooking in this crappy kitchen? Awful!

Well, I’m not going to go there; you should have seen the kitchen in Singapore for the finale of my season of Top Chef. What a dump! I am still in shock from walking into the kitchen during my finale – I couldn’t get over that kitchen! The weird thing was, that the dining room was beautiful. I guess you can see where people splurge on money and where they try to be cheap.

Why did that fryer burst into flames? What did Antonia do wrong?

The fryer was the highlight of the show. That was crazy and very dangerous! They were very lucky. I assume that the thermostat was broken and wouldn’t shut off correctly, so the oil kept heating and heating — until it combusted into flames. Crazy! Antonia over-thought her dish and got nervous. I know she could have done better than what she presented. It happens to all of us under pressure.

The starting over — seemed SO unfair, especially that people were able to change their dish after this debacle?

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

I would have been very pissed if my fellow chefs were able to change their dishes. I thought it was unfair and not cool. They should have only been allowed to execute their original thought and that’s it. Once they found out that they were not cooking for royalty, they could have dumbed it down (which a few chefs did).

What time of night do you think it was that the chefs actually started cooking and serving food? How much does it throw you off if you’re cooking in the middle of the night? And, why weren’t they given a day do-over in light of a FIRE?

I bet it took place in the middle of the night. It looked like a HUGE inconvenience. Time of day can throw off anyone’s cooking, especially when something like a kitchen fire happens. I’m sure the reason they didn’t give them a day to re-prep and start again fresh is because of the production and its team. Schedules are tight!

Wasn’t it weird that Antonia went with fried shrimp once she saw who she was cooking for? Like, oh, you’re not real royalty? Here’s some fried shrimp. No lamb for you!

Well, let’s just look at where they were cooking. Antonia had it in her head, “I’m in a fry shack cooking for a bunch of people with these crazy costumes on and they’re not really royalty, so I will do fried shrimp.” I would have cooked as if the dinner guests were really royalty! Always go with your first instinct.

Is Blais just totally mental? Or, does every competitive chef feel the same way, yet he’s more vocal about his insecurities?

Blais is a very intense chef/person, and he is his own worst critic. He’s not mental at all — just very hard on himself.  Many chefs are exactly just like him. We sometimes don’t like to eat our own food because we don’t think it is good enough. Sounds crazy, huh? (Ed. note: This does sound crazy. Ed, whenever you don’t want to eat your food, just call me and I’ll pop into Plein Sud to help you out.) Top Chef captures these feelings, insecurities, challenges and triumphs on television. Viewers get to see just how intense a person really is. In Blais’s case, he is very intense.

Which is more unforgivable? Sweet, unevenly cooked pork, or overcooked, bad-tasting shrimp and grits with pork chunks? Personally, I think Carla was robbed.

I will gladly take overcooked shrimp any day of the week over pork sashimi! Raw pork versus overcooked shrimp — something undercooked can get you sick. At least with something fully cooked, I think you’re pretty safe to eat it. I actually don’t think she was robbed at all. Sorry, Carla!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *