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Younger Voltaggio brother survives elimination on 'Top Chef'

October 08, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

FREDERICK, Md. -- Frederick County native Michael Voltaggio escaped elimination on the seventh episode of "Top Chef: Las Vegas" on Wednesday night -- barely.

And his older brother, Frederick chef Bryan Voltaggio, got a little testy, but in his own mild-mannered, polite way.

Bryan Voltaggio, 33, of Urbana, Md., is chef and partner of Volt Restaurant in downtown Frederick.

His younger brother, Michael, is chef de cuisine at The Dining Room, Langham Huntington Hotel in the Los Angeles area.

Wednesday night's episode, on Bravo, focused on home cooking.

After finishing in the top three during the quickfire contest, Michael Voltaggio ended up in the bottom two teams during the elimination round.

For the elimination round, chefs were paired together and had to prepare a family-style dish for a dinner party of chefs and judges. Each team was given a bag of ingredients by one of the guest chefs.

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Michael Voltaggio was paired with Ash Fulk, who let Voltaggio take the lead conceptually and in preparing the halibut. The team used an electric wok, but the power kept going out on their outlet and they were forced to move the fish in the midst of cooking it. The result was the halibut was overcooked.

The judges said a power issue was not an excuse, as you cannot make such an excuse to a diner who has paid for an expensive meal.

The elimination came down to Michael Voltaggio and Ashley Merriman, who undercooked some of her team's prawns and had a hand in gnocchi that ended up too salty.

Merriman was told to pack her knives, and Voltaggio survived.

While Voltaggio and Merriman's teams were facing the judges, cheftestant Kevin Gillespie started asking Bryan Voltaggio about his brother's dish.

"I don't want to discuss it. We'll wait till they come back in. Let them discuss it. It's their dishes. I'm tired of dissecting other people's plates. You didn't try it, did you?," Bryan Voltaggio said without raising his voice.

"You didn't try the dish, did you? You can't pass judgment. That's how I feel about this," Voltaggio said.

Bryan Voltaggio's elimination round dish was praised, but didn't win.

Voltaggio was teamed with Laurine Wickett. They also made halibut -- a pan-roasted halibut with sherry-chorizo vinaigrette, yellow corn cake and avocado mousse. Their ingredients came from celebrity chef Tyler Florence, who was guest judge for the episode.

The vinaigrette was a hit with the judges.

Jennifer Carroll, who felt ill much of the day, was the elimination round winner. She and Gillespie prepared barbecued Kobe beef with cardamom, tomato and ginger broth.

Carroll won a $10,000 gift card from Macy's.

Her partner, Gillespie, won the quickfire challenge. For his prize, he got to choose between immunity during the elimination round or $15,000. He chose the money.

During the episode, it also was revealed that Michael Voltaggio has two daughters, ages 5 and 9. During an interview segment in the early part of the show, he talked about how he has focused on his career and was missing his daughters.

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