Top Chef Season 8 Episode 4: Advantage, Angelo?

"I knew Stefan Richter, Stefan Richter was a friend of mine. Angelo, you're no Stefan Richter."

Just in time for the holidays, Chef Ed Cotton returns from a secret mission to weigh in on the most recent episode of Top Chef All Stars and a few of the eliminations that happened in his absence.

Welcome back, Ed! Are you shocked that we lost Jen and Dale L. (and Stephen — no shocker!) in your absence? I was really surprised that Dale went home.

Wow! It was the biggest shock when I found out that Jen was sent home! I did not see that coming, and Jen is a very talented chef. Having been in the competition before, I know all too well how important consistency is to success. You have one bad day and you go home. It may not always be fair, but you cannot please the judges all the time. I thought for sure Dale would have stuck around longer, but I wasn’t completely upset by his dismissal.

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Top Chef Season 8 Episode 2: Big Girls Don’t Cry (Except When They Do)

Padma resists asking guest judge Joe Jonas if he still has his purity ring.

Chef Ed Cotton is on a special secret assignment this and next week, but we’re fortunate to have a guest chef correspondent lending a hand. From the second season of Top Chef Masters, Chef Carmen Gonzalez joins us! Chef Gonzalez shared exclusively with OpenTable that she is currently the national chef ambassador for BACARDI rums, is working on opening a brand new concept in Puerto Rico, and recently signed on to Nutrisystem’s Chef Culinary Council to create a new line of nutritious food. Chef Carmen will appear as a guest on an upcoming episode of Top Chef All Stars that you won’t want to miss!

What did you think of Fabio’s reaction to Anthony Bourdain’s criticism last week? They showed it again, and I’m wondering if he’s being overly sensitive or was Bourdain being too mean?

I think Fabio was being overly sensitive. You need to respect the fact that Anthony Bourdain is the judge and you have to respect him as such.  In my experience, most chefs are volatile and sensitive at the same time. I don’t think Fabio’s reaction was any different from other chefs in past seasons; however, I do think he was a little out of place. I have had chefs treat me worse than that in my personal life.

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Meet Chef Ed Cotton, Our New ‘Top Chef All-Stars’ Viewing Partner

Chef Ed Cotton was a finalist on the most recent season of Top Chef.

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!