For a while, it looked like a Connecticut chef might win “Hell’s Kitchen.”
Cottle, who lives in Middletown, created entrées that looked not only good enough to eat but also good enough to be on any food Web site or the cover of any glossy food magazine.
For the finale, he turned New England seafood into high-end cuisine, going for a fish-focused menu, a petite clambake. The diners and judges were not disappointed.
His only trouble came "at the pass" when one of the teammates helping him kept messing up the scallops, but he pulled it together and it looked like he could pull out a win.
But, when he and co-contestant Dave Levey held their breaths and waited for the big moment to reveal who will be cooking at Whistler during the Olympics, we “Hell’s Kitchen” junkies held our breaths and waited.
Then the disappointment for those of us from Connecticut. Kevin was denied the keys to the prize – Araxi restaurant.
Ramsey softened the blow to say it was the closest finale in the show’s history.
But, only one could win and Cottle was bested by the man nicknamed the “one armed bandit” because he severely injured his hand during the fire truck cleaning challenge and kept on going.
Looking back, it would have been a surprise for anyone but Levey -- a 32-year-old executive chef from Chester, New Jersey who currently lives in San Diego, California -- and Cottle -- a 35-year-old executive chef who lives in Connecticut -- to be in the finale.
Both worked injured. Cottle was hurt during the same episode Levey was. He did some damage to his ankle while walking up stairs to return to Hell’s Kitchen. Both worked wounded for weeks.
Both had more technical skill than most other contestants. Both seemed more professional than many others, except for a handful of snide remarks. Neither stabbed the other in the back, which is always good to see on a reality television show.
So what’s next for Cottle, we’re not sure. The “events” section of his Web site says “Coming soon.” Find out on Oct. 29, when he sits down with NBC Connecticut.
He has been executive chef at the prestigious Country Club of Farmington since April 2007, and we hope that's what he'll still be working here. He's taking his skill into the classroom, to teach Farmington High School students the importance of local food, so he's helping the local community.
If you want to try your own skills at his dishes by trying his recipes, like brown sugar and coffee cured beef tenderloin with grilled watermelon, , Jicama-Orange Slaw, and Citrus Mole or sea bass with fennel salad, parsnip puree and Orange Beurre Blanc.