Chef Angelo Sosa on His Love for Perfect Simplicity

By Annie Wu, Epoch Times
July 16, 2015 1:30 pm Last Updated: March 8, 2018 5:30 pm

Hometown: Durham, Connecticut

Occupation: Owner and Executive Chef of Añejo, TV Personality, and Cookbook Author

Lives in: East Harlem, New York City

With a Dominican father and an Italian mother, chef Angelo Sosa grew up with a diverse palate. From a young age, his father introduced him to traditional Dominican dishes like bacalao (codfish), pig’s feet, and cow tongue, and put him to work helping in the family garden.

Since then, Sosa has received Western culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America, where he was mentored by acclaimed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Sosa’s knack is for transforming flavors with creative takes on traditional cuisines.

At his New York City restaurants, Añejo and Añejo Tribeca, Sosa puts a new spin on Mexican food. He serves the tostada—typically made with pulled pork—with pork belly braised in tamarind soda, a popular Mexican drink.

The Epoch Times recently caught up with Sosa to ask him three questions about his favorite food experiences past, present, and future.

Sosa's Añejo restaurant in Tribeca, New York City. (Courtesy of Añejo)
Sosa’s Añejo restaurant in Tribeca, New York City. (Courtesy of Añejo)

Epoch Times: What was your most transformative or inspiring food-eating experience?

Angelo Sosa: There’s a pizza restaurant in New Haven called Pepe’s Pizza that’s existed since 1925. I go there every year for my birthday.

What I love about the pizza is that it’s really about the art of simplicity and the act of perfecting your skill. Not only do they cook their pizza with natural coals, they’re all about letting the pizza take its time and the gluten rising. Their white clam pizza is made with beautiful clams just picked from [Block] Island Sound and the garlic comes from the local farmer’s market. It’s just the essence of simplicity at its best. When I’m having the pizza, it’s a very euphoric and inspiring experience for me, because it’s about not just the craft, but about letting the ingredients highlight themselves.

What really gets into my head and blows me away is the art of perfection. These people have been doing this craft since 1925, and they’re constantly every single day, perfecting it. I think that’s very motivating for somebody [like me] who’s a creator. It’s a key lesson.

Epoch Times: What is your current food obsession?

Mr. Sosa: I’m obsessed with vegetables—I’m obsessed with just how cool they are. I think that where I’m at in life is getting back to my roots, and connecting with nature. Coming from a French background, working with Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] and Alain Ducasse, I think cooking with vegetables epitomizes respecting nature and respecting earth, and complementing the beauty of these vegetables has just been so inspiring for me.

Añejo's roasted heirloom baby carrots, with mole vinaigrette, Mexican chocolate, red onions, and oregano.
Añejo’s roasted heirloom baby carrots, with mole vinaigrette, Mexican chocolate, red onions, and oregano.

Añejo’s roasted heirloom baby carrots, with mole vinaigrette, Mexican chocolate, red onions, and oregano.

Something we do here at the [Añejo Tribeca] restaurant that I’m really proud of is a dish with beautiful heirloom baby carrots. The colors are just magical: they’re purple, yellow, orange. What we do is we sear them with sea salt and cracked pepper; oven-roast them with some farmers market garlic, thyme, and olive oil until they’re just slightly crunchy; and then we make a mole vinaigrette—kind of like a broken chocolate vinaigrette—with shallots, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and onions. What I love about this dish is that it embodies the earth and the soil.

Epoch Times: What would your last meal on Earth be?

Mr. Sosa: I’ll probably be in the foothills of Tuscany, with my wife eating Italian pizza. I’m obsessed with pizza.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.