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Top Chef Continues With Cranberries and Thanksgiving at Plimoth Plantation

Boston Top Chef competitor Stacy Cogswell reflects on last night's episode. Major spoilers ahead.

Stacy Cogswell
Stacy Cogswell

Last night was a sad episode to watch; obviously, you knew what was coming. How did you feel going into watching last night's episode?

I actually felt good. If there was any episode episode that I wanted to go out on, I wanted it to be that one. It was just a fun episode.

Before we get to the elimination, let's back up a bit and talk about the start of the episode. You seemed frustrated at the beginning of the episode. Do you think that the way you were portrayed in the episode was how you were really feeling?

No, I don't. I was more tired than frustrated. It was getting to point where everyone was getting tired. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and was being really hard on myself, and I was just tired. It wasn't really frustration.

The first challenge of last night's episode took place in a cranberry bog. Had you ever been in a cranberry bog? What was it like?

Fun fact: that cranberry bog was in my hometown. Talk about a mind fuck. It was crazy. I had spent a lot of time in those cranberry bogs. Not working them, just being a kid hanging out down there. I was watching it with one of my friends, and she asked the same question, and I said that of course I've been in a cranberry bog; I grew up right there!

Obviously this show was filmed in the summer; what was it like cooking Thanksgiving-related items out of the traditional New England Thanksgiving season?

Honestly, that thought never crossed my mind. The episode just actually made it feel like Thanksgiving for me, just to be with new friends, cooking and happy. That's what was different in this episode. There was this amazing sense of community, and everyone was just helping everyone out and it was just so cool.

You seemed to be very beat down in the cranberry challenge, and then your attitude seemed to turn around for the Thanksgiving challenge. What changed in you?

The night before, I got to Skype with my boyfriend, and that really helped. When you're pulled away from family and friends and you're in that stressful situation, seeing someone you love does wonders for your moral. I actually cried watching it last night. In kitchens and at work you have to be very straight. There's no time in the kitchen to be emotional, and most people don't get that. You can't be emotional; you have to be a leader because the rest of the team feeds off of that if you aren't. I have gotten a little backlash from the emotions comments that I made, but people who don't work in the industry just don't understand why I say things like that.

What was it like cooking at Plimouth Plantation?

It was so much fun. I think for me, that's what made this episode so special. I'm at a place that I've been to millions of time throughout life, and I'm cooking. Granted, I wish I had things like running water, but to be there cooking like how they used to cook was really awesome.

Did you think your dish deserved elimination? Do you think there was dirt in your dish?

I don't think it deserved elimination. I actually thought it was really awesome. They said there was a muskiness to my dish, and I was shocked. I tasted it several times and I didn't get it. I thought maybe it was the smoke? I mean it was so smoky. Everyone's eyes were watering like crazy. The clams were just cooked perfectly, and I was happy with how it came out.

Looking back, is there something you would have done differently?

Nope. A lot of people have asked that. People asked if I would not have plated in the ground, but that wasn't the case. The clams weren't in the dirt; I was in the dirt. I had to work so quickly and pull them off the fire that I really didn't have a choice.

In the exit interview, you said that you were relieved to have this stress over. Is that how you really felt?

Absolutely. Yeah. I put a lot of stress on myself, and I was really hard on myself, to the point where it was hurting me. I wasn't sleeping. I couldn't think straight, and it was a very hard and a taxing experience. It was a fun experience but still very taxing. I'm the only one to blame for the extra pressure I put on myself.

Anything else you'd like to add?

The major thing that I learned from this whole experience was that it reinforced what I do, and it genuinely makes me happy. If I'm not in a good place, my food will still be good, but it will be even better when I'm enjoying it. It was a pretty heavy thing to learn — but a good one.

What's next for you?

Who knows. I'm just trying to get through today. I'm here at the Beagle and I'm thinking about Thanksgiving.

Are you cooking or is someone cooking for you?

I think that people who cook for a living should have people cook for them on Thanksgiving, so no, I'm not cooking. Someone's cooking for me!

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