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!
Did Black Friday bust your bank account? Did you get silly with Cyber Monday savings? As I like, a girl’s (and a guy’s) still gotta eat! Check out this week’s round of OpenTable Spotlight offers in a city near you to ease the pain of holiday shopping. Enjoy $25 for $50 at…
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So, it’s the ‘new’ Friday (otherwise known as Thursday) and you have dinner plans with a friend — but no idea where to dine. Naturally, we do — and now you will, too, thanks to OpenTable’s new metro home page, which launches in all metro areas tomorrow morning. Front and center, you’ll find available tables for two at some of your city’s most popular and highest-rated restaurants. Just click on a time, and you’re on your way! Known as ‘Tables for Two Tonight,’ it is one of several new concepts that we’ve introduced as part of a facelift to our metro homepage.
Eric Ripert’s popular series Avec Eric is currently in its second successful season and now fans can relive their favorite moments with the companion cookbook, also called Avec Eric. A cross between a captain’s log and a cookbook, Avec Eric is is a must-have for fans of this inquisitive chef’s culinary adventures. He sat down to share his thoughts on this new release.
Obviously, travel is a central theme in Avec Eric. I imagine, as for other professionals, travel can be a luxury for a chef/restaurateur. How important is it for you to get out from behind the line and go into the world to experience food as a diner/tourist/etc.?
For me, travel is a huge source of inspiration, and so it is no question that I must get out and visit new places or I will start to feel burned out. I am very lucky to be able to travel every year. Creativity is something that you cannot turn on and off, and so sometimes I may see something out on the road and one day many years later, it will show up in some way or another in my food. So, I feel it’s important for me to constantly see and taste and try new things.
We’ve been following his every move for weeks, so we were so pleased to see the talented Marc Forgione claim the title of Iron Chef! Chef Forgione — or, ahem — Iron Chef Forgione talked to us about the last episode, his judges and co-competitors, and the first Thanksgiving.
Marc, it’s neat that you brought up your dad. First, his ‘American Place’ cookbook is, literally, prominently displayed in my home. BUT…I actually think of you absolutely discretely from him. Have you ever felt that you’ve cooked in his shadow?
Throughout my entire life, no matter where I have worked or who I have worked for, I have always heard the comment, “I heard you are Larry’s kid.” Most people would think that this puts me at an advantage, but that could not be farther from the truth. Every time I would slip up, I would have to hear a barage of questions, comparing me to him: “Would your father serve that? Would your father eat that?” and so on. Having said that, I obviously respect my father immensely and everything he has done for the restaurant business. I can only hope that one day they will be asking my son the same exact questions.
Bobby Flay and Morimoto are sitting in judgment. What are you thinking in terms of cooking for these two chefs?
Bobby Flay and Morimoto are legends in this business and cooking for the two of them definitely ups the ante for the task at hand. Morimoto commented during my first few dishes that he thought some things were salty – that definitely got me nervous. I loved hearing Bobby’s feedback throughout my courses. He was not just tasting the food but was truly judging everything that was going on throughout the battle. He broke down every single aspect of the dishes I put in front of him, and I valued all of his insights.
It’s probably safe to say that the first season of Top Chef Just Desserts was a resounding success, so we’re pleased to bring you — for the last time this season but not the last time, I hope — expert insights from Le Bernardin‘s own Michael Laiskonis.
Before we even dive in, how high are the judges’ expectations at this point? Can you put this into perspective? In terms of the title being meaningful, do the standards have to be insane?
I’d like to think that the standards and expectations have been at a constant high level throughout the competition. As this challenge will represent the sum total of the chefs’ work, I’d also bet the judges are really looking for that personal touch; and that’s also when the chef’s are really just pushing their own limits and competing less with each other and more against themselves.
What does a progressive, four-course dessert tasting mean for you when you hear that? Does it inspire opportunity? Fear? Have you done this/do you do this at Le Bernardin? When would a civilian diner (like me) get this opportunity?
I love that kind of format, as it gives us pastry chefs a rare opportunity to take guests on a little sweet journey — an opportunity to explore a range of techniques, flavors, and textures. I also like exploiting a buildup of intensity and creating a cohesive package in small, distinct dishes. We don’t exactly have that kind of structure built into our menu at Le Bernardin, but we’re willing to negotiate such a thing! One restaurant that does is wd-50, where pastry genius Alex Stupak offers an amazing multi-course dessert tasting. Continue reading…
As a diner, when you think about OpenTable, you probably think about the convenience of booking restaurant reservations online (as we hope you do!). However, recent buzz has led some diners to wonder, “Is OpenTable as good for my favorite restaurants as it is for me?” Well, we certainly believe so, and here’s the how and the why.
Last night’s episode of The Next Iron Chef was all about seduction — and elimination as two of the final four were sent packing. Chef Marc Forgione takes us behind the scenes on how he survived to cook in Kitchen Stadium next week.
First, do you always cook in black? And, did you always wear black — or not until you were in charge?
Pretty straight-forward answer to this question: Black is my favorite color. I have been wearing black chef coats ever since I had my own restaurant. I have even instilled my color preference onto my staff — we all wear black in my kitchen. It has become a signature style choice at the restaurant!
This show has been very challenging, obviously. Can you name another time in your career that you were under as much pressure to prove yourself?
I have faced different kinds of pressure ever since I became a chef and started my career in the restaurant industry. Opening a restaurant with your name on the front door creates more pressure than most would choose to deal with. However, the emotions that I endured throughout filming, both mentally and physically, were unlike any others I have ever felt. They were all-consuming and challenged my very nature as a chef. I think I mentioned on the show that the entire process felt like a science project. As contestants, we were being experimented on to see how much the human body and mind could actually endure. Continue reading…