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A Voltaggio victory - younger brother wins

December 11, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

On Wednesday night's sixth season finale of "Top Chef," it came down to a showdown between the Frederick, Md., Voltaggio brothers.

And it was younger brother Michael Voltaggio, 30, of Los Angeles, who walked away with the title chef from Bravo's "Top Chef: Las Vegas."

Voltaggio, who is chef de cuisine at The Dining Room, Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa in LA, out-cooked 16 other chef'testants, including older brother Bryan, to win after 14 weeks of competition.

With his bad-boy attitude, complete with trademark tattoos, Voltaggio and older brother Bryan, 33, of Urbana, Md., who is co-owner of Volt Restaurant in Frederick, Md., became fan favorites.

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In the finale episode of "Top Chef," the Voltaggios, along with Atlanta-based chef Kevin Gillespie, were cooking at Cyrus Restaurant in Napa Valley, Calif.

They were first given the task of preparing three courses: a first course from a box of ingredients identical to all three chefs; a second course of anything the chef desired; and a third course of dessert.

In "Top Chef" tradition, the chefs pulled knives to have former chef'testants come back to be their sous chefs, one chef to help prep and another to help the day of the competition.

And in another "Top Chef" tradition - the twist - the chefs had to prepare a favorite childhood dish inspired by their moms, after Gillespie's and the Voltaggios'' mothers made a surprise visit.

"It's heart wrenching at times," said Bryan and Michael's mother. "You want them to both do well, but ultimately there's only one winner."

Compared with previous seasons, there weren't as many negative comments from the judges during the elimination rounds.

As each course was laid out (the first-course guests included the chefs' moms), it was hard to guess which would be the first chef eliminated.

In the challenges leading into the episode, the chefs were pretty close in wins. Michael Voltaggio won two quickfire challenges, while Bryan didn't win any. In elimination challenges, Michael won three; Bryan won four.

Ultimately, it was a chewy matsutake mushroom in course two and a pork dish in the third course that sent Gillespie home.

Both of the Voltaggio brothers were criticized for some of their dishes. Bryan was told his dishes were underseasoned. Michael's dessert was dry and overcooked.

But for the judges it came down to Michael not playing it safe in the kitchen when it came to the dishes he served up.

"I just don't want Bryan to be Top Chef," said the ever-competitive Michael Voltaggio before the judges rendered their decision.

He got his wish.

In addition to the title and bragging rights, Voltaggio won 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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