Photo: David Giesbrecht / Bravo
Slashfood spoke with both Ed and Angelo the day after the Top Chef: D.C. finale -- we're happy to report they both were in good spirits.
First , Angelo Sosa.
Toward the end, there seemed to be different dimensions of your personality that we didn't see in the beginning.
AS: I think it took awhile for my personality to come out on the show. From my perspective, in the beginning, I have two businesses and it was a great sacrifice for me. I have a two year old son and he has a lot of medical needs, so I knew in the beginning I needed to make my time worthwhile and stay focused. But I was put on this earth to cook and I love cooking and I love helping people. Those are the two things that really define me in this world.
In one of the last cutaways, you said something like "Kevin deserved to win and I'm happy for him."
AS: Kevin did an amazing job. I was blessed to compete in the finals. A lot of people were so supportive, and I didn't think I was going to be able to cook because I was so ill. That doctor gave me that injection and it took well.
Did you have food poisoning?
AS: The doctor said it was a severe stomach virus. It literally hit me within two days. It hit me like a hurricane. We were driving back from judges table and I started throwing up in the car and onto the highway. For twenty minutes, I was continuously throwing up on the highway. That's how my deck played out.
When you were trying to rest, did they have cameras on you the whole time?
AS: There could have been ten monkeys in the room and I wouldn't have known. I was pretty dazed and confused. But yes, there were cameras.
Your background is Dominican and Italian -- how did you get into Asian cuisines?
AS: I picked up cooking from my Aunt Carmen, who was a Dominican cook. She passed away maybe twenty years ago, but I still reminisce about those spices. It was when I started working with Jean-Georges here in New York City -- he was one of the first chefs that brought Asian fusion to French cooking here in the U.S. Of course, I knew lemongrass and ginger, but it wasn't until my first trip to Thailand that I really got it...it was like seeing for the first time. I saw frogs being killed right in front of me, chickens getting their heads cut off. I saw different types of chili and coriander. It was a plethora of memories and pleasure and that's really when Asian cooking was injected into my DNA. I'm grounded in classical French cooking, but I'm really diverse. I'm somebody who loves cooking with spices, from Middle Eastern to Indian, and have an understanding of how to work with spices.
You have a very sensual take on food, which I think is a tough thing for people to admit on camera.
AS: I think I learned that from Jean-Georges. I remember him coming in and cooking on the line with us, but also as a business man. He always talked about the sexy factor -- he could make a french fry sexy and voluptuous. I'm an extremist and passionate about cooking; just hearing the word makes my arms go up. I use a lot of adjectives. It is sensual and it should be sensual. It's an experience. It's an amazing way to translate food into something people can understand.
With your last meal, how did you want to approach it?
AS: Under the terms of being sick, I think it was more a survival meal. I was pretty honored that Hung was there and was amazed at what he did. I wanted to offer textures and flavors and keep it very simple; I thinks simplicity and clarity are two words that really define me and I wanted that to be the essence throughout the whole meal.