Angelo Sosa On His New Book, Top Chef, And How To Make The Best Burger In The Country

by Steven Doyle

I ran into Angelo Sosa this week having dinner with Private Social’s Tiffany Derry and her husband at Village Marquee. Sosa is a fellow Top Chef alumnus and was featured in season 7, the same as Tiffany. He also made it to the Top Chef Masters.

Sosa owns several restaurants in New York including Social Eatz and Añejo Tequileria in Hell’s Kitchen. I had a chance the next day to sit down with the chef to chat about his career and his new photo heavy cookbook.            

Good afternoon, chef. We spoke for a few minutes at Marquee last night. Did Tre Wilcox serve you anything special?

He did, actually. One of the dishes was his Lobster & Squid Ceviche. Very interesting.

You are in town to promote your book and cook up a dinner at Tiffany’s Private Social?

Yes. I knew I would be in town as part of the book tour and asked Tiffany if she would like to do something special. This whole tour has been part of my relationship with Top Chef.  Tonight we are doing four courses including a  togarashi ramen. Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend and I will serve that with a chilled watermelon tea. This is summer. I am also doing a special dish using Tom Spicers okra and some shishito peppers.

Any good book tour stories?

Well, this is my first tour and it has been exciting. There were a few really good stores that were mind blowing including one in Colorado called the Tattered Cover. It felt like I was speaking at Harvard, it was pretty awkward. I ended up just taking my jacket off and sitting at the table.

Almost a year ago I won best burger in the country. It was a Korean style bibimbop burger. It not only won national acclaim, but also globally. The first lady of Korea stop in to my restaurant to try the burger. As a result, I was invited to Korea for a tour throughout.

What is in a bibimbap burger?

If you were to close your eyes it should taste like traditional bibimbap with the different ingredients. That is very much my style, to respect the past but a modern rendition. There is Korean pickles, bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots and we sous vide an egg at 140 degrees. This is cooked with the burger so it all absorbs that meat flavor.

What’s the book all about?

The book is broken up into nine chapters with each chapter a different flavor profile, and with each flavor profile there is a story of my life. Sweets is about my aunt Carmen, Bitter was about my partner which I ended up taking something good from that, Umami is about my mommy. It is taking all these pieces and putting them together.

It gives gratitude to everyone in my life and is very picture driven.

How was the Top Chef experience?

It was wonderful. Looking back though you wonder why you did some things. But when you are in it, you just have to run with what you have done. You hope for the law of averages sometimes and there will be someone who did something worse than you. It was an amazing experience.

Tiffany was the first person I met and we clicked from the get go. Regardless how the show portrayed, we were not about the drama. We definitely connected that way.

I hear they feed you all plenty of booze to strain out more drama.

Yes they do. We were like little foie gras when it came to booze.

Tell me about the newest restaurant, Añejo Tequileria.

We have very rare bottle of tequila, but we are not about hitting people over the head with prices. We want people to experience the beauty of tequilas. We have all our cocktails on tap which is really cool. We just won best margarita in the city [of New York].

What makes a really good margarita?

Ingredients. Fresh lime juice and quality of the tequila. Hands down my favorite tequila is the Casa Noble. We just got a barrel from Casa Noble and will start aging our own tequila.

You can find Angelo Sosa’s new book Flavor Exposed at stores across the city and at Amazon books.

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Filed under Chef Interview, Steven Doyle, Top Chef

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