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.
Angelo: 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?
Angelo: 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?
Angelo: 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?
Angelo: 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?
Angelo: [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?
Angelo: [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.
Angelo: 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.