Top Chef

A late-night endurance challenge at Target was not what the doctor ordered for Top Chef: All-Stars' Angelo Sosa. Exhausted and suffering from "palate fatigue," the New York-based chef — who was sick in last season's finale and joined All-Stars two weeks later — got the boot this week for over-salting his baked potato soup.

Find out why the Season 7 runner-up added salt and bacon to his dish, if he too made a weepy speech at Judges' Table, and why he is not a saboteur.

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The judges said your soup was inedible, which is the kiss of death. Were you aware that it was so over-salted?
Angelo Sosa:
No, to be honest, cooking at Target at 2 or 3 in the morning, having tasted it so many times, I got palate fatigue — my palate just got so desensitized. I really did not know I was up there for that specific reason. I just thought maybe it was out of whack. I trusted the judges. They're all highly talented and have acute palates, and they made a decision and I respect that. ... Let me put it this way: If I had known it was over-salted earlier, I wouldn't have served it. So going through Judges' Table, I didn't know that was what they were going to say.

But you did taste it? It was insinuated that you didn't.
I mean, I think that's my biggest mantra: taste everything. Just because something looks right and I've done it a thousand times — I always taste it.

Mike said that it was missing something, but did he make suggestions of what to add?
No. It was just missing a flavor enhancer and that was what I was looking for — maybe something umami-esque. So I did bacon and salt, and maybe it got a little too concentrated. ... You can't go wrong with bacon unless you're a vegetarian! [Laughs] So that was my angle — give them more bacon love. And the salt — I'm just a compulsive taster so I think I tasted it over 20 times and I couldn't distinguish what the flavors were and over-salted it. As much as I wanted to compete, I made a mistake.

Tiffany made a tearful speech at Judges' Table. Did you say anything?
Yeah, I said I was from a little town in Connecticut called Durham. [Laughs] Her tear bucket was fuller than mine. No, I'm joking. When I gave my little thing in the end, I was very moved. I felt a means of accomplishment. I competed in back-to-back seasons. I got sick in Singapore. I never realized when I started All-Stars how much Singapore really affected me. It was really tough. Two and a half weeks [after Singapore], I go to All-Stars. I gave it my all. I pushed harder than ever. My new favorite line is "I broke myself." The other competitors really broke me in a good way. They let me see my limits, reach my limits and go past my limits, so that was really amazing. It was just more of a sense of being honored to be there even though it was the end of my road.

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Last season and for the first half of this season, you were, perhaps unfairly, painted as a saboteur. What do you have to say about that?
Of course I'm not one. It's not even in my DNA. I was put on this earth to cook from my heart. I'm a sincere person who loves to cook, who loves to extract greatness from individuals. I love collaboration and to be able to work with others, help them, learn from them to make something amazing. [Sabotage's] just not part of my existence.

What was up with the knee-high socks you wore last night?
[Laughs] Those were for my varicose veins. They were my grandmother's and I wanted to wear those in memory. I'm just kidding! I think you have to bring a little flair to the show. I knew there would be a lot of running. When we got there, I just booked it. I was, like, 15 steps in front of everyone else. I used to play sports and it reminded me of playing football — roll my socks up.

Dale said you were a merman. Do mermen wear knee-high socks?
[Laughs] I do! I'm glad he said that because now Starbucks wants to use me as their new logo. That's exciting!

Tell us about your new restaurant Social Eatz.
It's opening the week of March 1 [in New York City]. ... This whole menu was inspired by Top Chef: All-Stars. The concept is American comfort food mingling with Asian flavors. I'm making things like a bibimbap burger. It's this vintage beef served with Korean pickles and a beautifully slow-poached egg. It's literally verbatim of a bibimbap.