Angelo Sosa is one of the returning competitors on the new season of Top Chef All-Stars. The show airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.
Sosa first appeared on the program during season 7, where he came in second-place behind Kevin Sbraga. Sosa returned for an All-Stars edition in season 8.
According to Bravo’s website, Sosa was considered “one of the cockiest chefs in his season’s kitchen.” But Sosa may be looking for redemption this time around. He posted on Instagram after the contestants were announced that he felt “humbled to be back with these talented chefs.” Sosa also wrote that he hoped his third time on the show would be “a charm.”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Angelo Sosa Was the Youngest of Seven Siblings & Says Cooking Was His Method of Expressing Himself
Angelo Sosa was born in December 1974 in Durham, Connecticut. His father was Dominican and his mother was Italian. He grew up the youngest of seven brothers and sisters.
Sosa explained in a 2012 interview with Jetset Times that his experience with food preparation began at an early age. His father had a career in the military and instilled discipline in his kids by having them work in the garden. Sosa said he used to spend Saturday mornings caring for the vegetables and helping prepare for the Sunday feast. “My father brought discipline to me at the table, which made me the chef that I am today.”
Sosa also told the magazine that he has one of his Dominican aunts to thank for his love of cooking. He explained he loved to watch her cook, and then see how the rest of the family lit up when she hosted. “This really impacted me, it’s deeply why I’m tied to my cooking. Growing up, I was a very quiet person, not outspoken at all,” Sosa said. “Cooking was a way for me to be loud, show my emotions, be a bit more daring, showing people who my inner person was.”
2. Sosa Graduated From the Culinary Institute of America in 1997 & Traveled Extensively to Learn More About Asian Cuisine
Angelo Sosa attended Manchester Community College in New Hampshire, according to his personal Facebook page. But it was his education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, that set him up for his professional career. He graduated with high honors in 1997. While a student, he ran the kitchen at the institute’s fine-dining restaurant, the Escoffier Room.
Sosa’s first job after graduation was at the Stonehenge Restaurant & Inn in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The lead chef at the time, Christian Bertrand, next asked Sosa to be his sous chef at Aqua in Westport, Connecticut. According to his alumni bio, it was Chef Bertrand who introduced him to his mentor, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Vongerichten is the famous French-American chef who runs kitchens all over the world, including in Las Vegas, Paris, Tokyo and London. The New York Times has described him as “one of the most versatile, ingenious and adventurous chefs in the history of American cuisine.”
Sosa told Jetsetter Times that while he was working with Vongerichten in New York City, he was inspired to learn more about Asian cooking. This interest led him to travel to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand, where he worked in restaurants and learned from locals in the markets.
This experience highly influenced Sosa’s style as a chef. He went on to open a fine-dining Asian restaurant called Yum Cha in New York City. StarChefs.com praised Sosa in 2006 for “exemplifying how chefs can thoughtfully interpret Chinese flavors for more sophisticated American palates.” Sosa told the website that he liked to blend traditional styles with his own French training to create unique dishes. “I wouldn’t call it a stereotypical fusion cuisine because I try to stay true to the purity of the cuisine.”
3. Angelo Sosa Has Published Two Cookbooks, Sells Customized Chef Uniforms & Has Opened Multiple Restaurants
Angelo Sosa has been unafraid to branch out in his career as a chef. According to his professional website, he worked as the Executive Sous Chef in several different restauarants during the mid-2000s in New York City and the Bahamas.
After first appearing on Top Chef in 2010, Sosa opened several restaurants of his own. According to his bio on Bravo, Sosa’s establishments have included the “Michelin Recommended Añejo in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, Anejo Tribeca, Mexican cantina Abajo and Death by Tequila named ‘Best New Restaurant’ by San Diego Magazine.”
Sosa published his first cookbook in 2012, called “Flavor Exposed: 100 Global Recipes from Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy.” He collaborated with TV personality Angie Martinez for a second book called “Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed” in 2015. The Amazon description read in part, “Based on the sexy, spicy, and satisfying foods they cherish from their Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican backgrounds, Angie and Angelo remix classic recipes like ropa viejo and arroz con pollo so everyone can enjoy eating the food they’ve grown up with, but without the guilt.”
Sosa also owns a company that sells chef uniforms. He launched AOSbySOSA in 2017. He told Pacific San Diego magazine he was inspired to do something different after moving to southern California. “Coming out West was like a resurrection for me, letting go of the past and creating something new.”
4. Angelo Sosa’s Son, Jacob Elias, Was Born With a Medical Disorder
Angelo Sosa is a father of a young son named Jacob Elias. Sosa has been open and transparent about his child’s medical issues.
Jacob was born with a chromosomal deficiency. He underwent heart bypass surgery when he was just six months old. Sosa explained to the Food Republic in 2012 that he “lived two months on a hospital floor. Everything I do, I do for him. I dedicated my cookbook to him. He just seems like a normal baby to himself; for me it’s painful to see him.” At the time of that interview, Jacob was about 3 and a half years old. Sosa said his son had just begun to walk.
Sosa shares photos of Jacob on his Instagram page often and has written about how his son changed his outlook on life. He wrote in May 2019, “To my little man; I miss you dearly…I’m so thankful to Christ for opening my heart to love. I wasn’t always this way closed off and detached from love, feeling I wasn’t worthy. I am grateful to know now that I am worthy of something so beautiful and essential to life. You have exposed me to a reality of whatever life hands you we can always choose to be happy and always take the high road. I thank you for being in my life and pray our hearts connect deeper. I am your protector and father & simply adore you.”
Sosa appears to share custody with Jacob’s mother. He talks about missing his son on Instagram and desiring to spend as much time with him as possible. Sosa also remarked to the Washington Post in 2012 that Jacob lived in San Francisco at the time.
5. Angelo Sosa Has Been Sober For More Than Four Years
Angelo Sosa is appearing on season 17 of Top Chef All Stars amid significant changes in his life. In January 2020, he left his position as Executive Chef of the Encinitas, California, restaurant Death by Tequila. The establishment was named “Best New Restaurant” by San Diego Magazine in May 2019.
Sosa now works as the culinary director of Small Barn Temecula and is working on a second restaurant in San Diego called Wolfie’s Carousel, according to his Bravo profile. The bio also notes that Sosa has been sober for about four years.
He touched on that part of his life in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. Sosa indicated he hoped to portray a different side of himself on the show. “I’ve gone through literally so much transformation. I wanted to see who I was, the new version of myself. I was humbled to be asked, to be invited back. What an honor; how can I not say yes to that?”
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