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'Top Chef: Las Vegas' update

Only one more episode to go before Top Chef crowned

Only one more episode to go before Top Chef crowned

December 03, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

Only one more episode to go before top title is awarded

By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com

It's official: It's a Voltaggio brother showdown.

After Wednesday night's episode of "Top Chef: Las Vegas," brothers Bryan Voltaggio, 33, and Michael Voltaggio, 30, are officially two of the three finalists for the ultimate cook-off for the title of Top Chef.

Bryan Voltaggio of Urbana, Md., is chef and partner of Volt Restaurant in downtown Frederick, Md. Michael Voltaggio, 30, is chef de cuisine at The Dining Room, Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa in Los Angeles. The brothers have spent 13 weeks in the competition.

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The Voltaggios had to compete alongside Jennifer Carroll and Kevin Gillespie in the first Napa Valley, Calif., competition.

For the quickfire competition, the chef'testants were asked to whip up something using Napa Valley's signature crop - the grape. They had 30 minutes to prepare the dishes while cooking on a moving diner car of the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Chefs then had to serve it to host and judge Padma Lakshmi and Michael Chiarello, Napa Valley chef and recent finalist for "Top Chef Masters."

Wanting his first-ever quickfire win, Bryan Voltaggio prepared roasted hen, bacon, brussels sprouts, Concord grapes, ruby quinoa and arugula. His younger brother, Michael Voltaggio served grape leaf stuffed with "couscous," vinegar-glazed grape-and-scallop kabobs.

Chiarello said it was Michael's dish that really told "a story from the ground up" and won the quickfire prize, a 2010 Toyota Prius.

For the elimination round, the chefs had to prepare two dishes at Rutherford Hills Winery for 150 guests attending a grape-crushing party. One dish had to be vegetarian, while the other had to contain a local protein.

All of the ingredients, except salt and pepper, were required to be raised or grown in the area.

Going into this round, Bryan Voltaggio felt it was his challenge to win.

"I think this is true to my style of cooking," he said.

Bryan's vegetarian dish was goat-cheese ravioli, delicata squash puree and bronze fennel. His protein dish was fig-glazed short ribs with celeriac puree, wax beans and wild arugula.

All of the judges, which included Lakshmi, Chiarello, Gail Simmons of Food and Wine magazine and judge and chef Tom Colicchio, raved about Bryan Voltaggio's dish but felt it needed more salt.

Michael Voltaggio's vegetarian dish was a vegetable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63-degree egg and fennel. His protein was a turnip soup with foie gras terrine, poached pear and glazed turnip.

The pregnant Lakshmi wasn't too crazy about the undercooked egg. The other judges felt that the egg almost overwhelmed the dish.

In what has been the strongest season finale in "Top Chef" history, it came down to small details. The judges felt that Carroll's dish wasn't quite a finished dish and she was sent home.

Bryan Voltaggio's knowledge of locally grown products won him the elimination round.

In the season finale, airing at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Bravo, the Top Chef will crowned.

In addition to the title and bragging rights, the Top Chef will win a feature in Food and Wine magazine, $100,000 worth of Macy's merchandise, a showcase at Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., and $125,000 from Glad to further his culinary dreams.

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