Iron Skillet

Culinary Punditry as Food for the Masses

Iron Skillet

Iron Skillet
United States
January 10
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DECEMBER 9, 2009 9:54PM

Fry It Up: Top Chef Las Vegas FINALE

Rate: 7 Flag

 Greetings, everyone, and welcome to the FINALE of Top Chef Seasaon Six, the Las Vegas edition.  As everyone knows, our finalists are the Voltaggio brothers, Bryan and Mike, and weird bearded dude Kevin, who gave up MIT to be a chef. 

 Tonight's episode, the finale, the showdown between these three amazing chefs, is going to come from Napa Valley. Bravo is apparently hosting a "virtual viewing party" using Twitter that will allow you to see commentary from the cast in real time, and add your own commentary. (All sponsored by I might add.....).  Gee whiz, I wonder where they got the idea of using real-time commentary and viewers comments to create an online viewing event?  I wonder......

 Iron Skillet holds no grudges, however.  You'll still get the freshest commentary here.  So on that note.....let's get started.

9:55 p.m. -- We're seeing winners and losers from the first part of the Napa finale.  Bryan Voltaggio goes into this last leg of the competition on top, having won the big elimination challenge.

9:56 p.m. - And now for the sadness.  Jennifer will be sent packing.

9:57 p.m. -- Still love that dress on Padma.  The whole look is actually very well done.  She looks good with a few pounds on.

10:00 p.m. -- We're seeing scenes from the season, and what a season it's been.  I've got to say, there were a lot of awesome chefs in this season.

10:01 p.m. -- The chefs are hanging having breakfast together.  Napa is a very interesting place.  WHen I went there it reminded me of Greece.

10:03 p.m.  -- The chefs are given their assignment -- there's a twist.  Everyone will be given the same ingredients for the appetizer.  Free for all in the main course.  They MUST do a dessert.  For once they deal with the "dessert or no dessert" crisis.

10:04 p.m. -- and past competitors come back.  You must take them as sous chefs.  Jennifer is with Bryan.  Mike gets Jesse.  Kevin gets Ash.  Ashely goes to Brayn.  And eli goes with Mikey.

10:06 p.m. -- The box has rockfish, crab, hyssop.  This is a lot like the Food Network show "Chopped" which is rapidly becoming a favorite show of mine.

10:07 p.m. -- The mystery box is throwing off mikey V.  Preeti is chopping vegetables.  It's about all she can do, and given she couldn't even open clams, no wonder Kevin is getting irate.

10:08 p.m. -- Bryan has a serious advantage with Jennifer.

10:11 p.m. -- "Did You Hear About the Morgans" looks to be one of those films where all the good lines are in the preview.  Like when Hugh Grant says to an angry bear, "My wife is a member of PETA.  I have been meaning to join."

10:12 p.m. -- Kevin is now dealing with time issues because of Preeti.  Bryan is anal.  Mike is still trying to figure out the mystery box.

10:13 p.m. -- And the moms show up.  This oughta be interesting.  The Voltaggios are interesting.  It's kind of cute to see how grown men become little boys when their moms walk in the room.

10:15 p.m. -- I love Kevin's mom.  And Kevin with his mom is pretty neat too.  He relates to her as a man, not a boy, which is nice to see.

10:16 p.m. -- Now the chefs have yet another course to prepare.  They are all crazy now.

10:17 p.m. -- Bryan is doing tuna noodle casserole.  Mikey is doing something involving broccoli.  Mikey once again waxes poetic about his mom always having food on the table at night.

10:18 p.m. -- Kevin gave up MIT for cooking.  A mom who doesn't kill a kid who tries that is one unique mom.

10:19 p.m. -- Mikey's plan for the mystery box...a "scavenger hunt" of flavor where one does not know what to expect....bad, bad, bad, bad idea.

10:20 p.m. -- Mikey is taking too many risks I think.

10:21 p.m. -- Kevin is doing pork, Bryan venison.  And Kevin is using bacon in his dessert.  Come hell or high water, Kevin will be using bacon.

10:22 p.m. -- The first courses are getting set up.  Kevin is right -- it's anyone's game at this point.  And apparently, the moms are at the dinner table.  And that is cruel.  Particularly for Ms. Voltaggio.

10:25 p.m. -- Whoever thought a second Alvin and the Chipmunks movie was a good idea should be shot.

10:25 p.m. -- the moms are at the table. And Padma  tells the moms to put up with their critique.  Ms. Voltaggio puts the threat on Tom Colicchio.

10:27 p.m. -- This is a pretty esteemed group of restauranteurs.  They should be really scared.

10:27 p.m. -- Bryan made a sardine. 

10:28 p.m. -- Kevin's dish is vintage Kevin. Homey with TONS of flavor.

10:29 p.m. -- Bryan's sardine is underseasoned.  Mikeys dish is getting mixed  reviews. I am sensing a theme with Bryan being underseasoned.  The moms won't stay for all of dinner?

10:31 p.m. -- Mystery boxes come next.  Kevin did a lot of flavor, but the mushroom was a disaster.  Not his strongest show.  Bryan is not aggressive with seasoning.  They are finding him safe and bland.  Not. good.

10:32 p.m. -- Mikey's dish does go over well. 

10:32 p.m. -- Here come the main courses.  Kevin is doing pork belly, Bryan the venison, and Mike is doing squab.  I think Mikey's is again the most creative.  Bryan nails the flavors on this one. The puree on Mikey's dish is a gimmik.  The pork belly (Kevin) is good, but they aren't raving.

10:34 p.m. -- Mikey's dessert is going to be a disaster.  Kevin does a roasted banana with bacon.  Bryan has cheesecake and Mikey's dessert is there....overcooked.

10:35 p.m. -- Tom identifies exactly where Mike went wrong.  Bryan's dessert was the most skillful, and the least mistaken.  Kevin's was too baconey and not enough banana.

10:36 p.m. -- This is a very hard call.  There are no clear winners or losers.  No one choked.  No one knocked it out of the park, either.

10:39 p.m. -- Mikey V's dishes were great up until the end.  Kevin had some misses along the way.  He's a little overconfident, his execution was solid but not great.  Bryan held back on his seasonings in the beginning and it may have cost him.  Really, I am having trouble deciding.

10:41 p.m. -- At this point, I am going to go with Bryan Voltaggio.  I think that his misses missed less, and his hits were good.  He was the only one who did a star-quality dessert.  He killed with the venison.  His other dishes were only flawed in that they were slightly underseasoned. 

10:43 p.m. -- The gladiators enter the arena for the critique.  Bryan's mystery box is held up for being perhaps too restrained, not bold enough.

10:45 p.m. -- Kevin's mom course went well.  The pork course was not a complete knockout.  Mike was adept with the mushroom.  Toby is really into Mike V's dish.  THere is serious man-love here.

10:46 p.m. -- Mike's dessert was almost great, but almost doesn't always cut it.  Bryan is not giving a good pitch as to why he's top chef.  He's a good chef.  Mike gives a smart answer up front, but then delivers the heart.  He is about the emotion.  Kevin is the whole package.  Heart and intellect. 

10:48 p.m. -- Kevin all but tells Mike he thinks he won.  The crazy Limey of course likes the sardine. 

10:49 p.m. -- Mike clearly won the "mystery" challenge.

10:50 p.m. -- Bryan was clearly loved for his dish.  Mikey was good but not great.  I'm starting to think that this is Bryan's to lose now....

10:51 p.m. -- The winner has been chosen.  I really do think it's Bryan.

10:54 p.m. -- Here's what I think...we give Bryan the "Top Chef" title....and one of the restauranteurs gives backing to Kevin's restaurant empire.

10:55 p.m. -- And of course they are dragging out the suspense by talking about the prize package again.

10:56 p.m. -- Tom runs through all the contestants.  Gives them all the pat on the back they deserve.  So who is it.

10:56 p.m. -- Kevin is NOT Top Chef.  That was the right choice.  He didn't produce this day.  He would have been deserving if he'd connected today.  But he didn't.

10:57 p.m. -- So now it's just the Voltaggio brothers.

10:57 p.m. -- the Top Chef.  Surprise the fuck outta me.

10:58 pm. -- Here comes mom.  And Mikey cries.  And here come all the other chefs.  At the end of the day, he is deeply creative, and a good choice.  The nice thing is, any one of them would have been.

Another season finished....another Top Chef chosen.  Watch this space for more culinary shenanigans to be determined.

Until next time....

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I'm sort of amazed. Can I say that? I would have put Mikey as the dark horse. So, what, did the judges have money on him in Vegas?

Poor Kevin, not his night, and I thought he had it in the bag, with Bryan his biggest competition.

I want a meal of Kevin's first course, Bryan's second and third, and Mikey's fourth. Yum double dum.

And thanks for the freshest commentary. I didn't even glance at Bravo's. You've done a stellar job all season, and I'll miss it. Thanks sincerely.
I just watched it a while ago. All along I thought Mike might win because he is always someone who will die if he doesn't cook. I think that dessert would have been divine if he hadn't overbaked it.

Thanks for doing this. If I hadn't been making Chile Verde with the last of the left over turkey I might have been here!
I was really holding out hope that Kevin would win. I wanted, for once, the award to go to someone who cooks from the heart and without pretense.
Kathy, thanks for being a faithful reader! I am a little disappointed that Kevin chose tonight to have his off night. They are bound to happen, but not good to have it for the finale. I think he got rotten luck in getting a really weak sous chef and it shook his game. I don't think he ever recovered from that.

Between Mikey and Bryan, it's a hard call. I'm sure based on the basics of what was on the plate, they were evenly split. Bryan was perhaps a little ahead. They forgave Mike much in that dessert by not penalizing him more for the overbaked cake. Had that been a piece of meat they would not have been so forgiving.

Susanne, I think you are right, Mike's genius comes from the fact that like any artist, he's not alive without his art. And I think that's why he won in the end. Bryan is a great chef, a brilliant technician, but he didn't go way out on the edge like Mike. Not. Once. I think a little less restraint and we'd have seen a different result.

Surly, I don't think the Voltaggios are pretentious. Egotistical? Absolutely. Particularly Mikey. Not self-effacing in the least. But I don't think that either Voltaggio pretended to know more about food than he actually did, or be something he wasn't. Indeed, aside from their blind spot with respect to each other, the Voltaggios for the most part seemed reasonably self-aware. Bryan more so than Mike (who quite frankly snarked too much), but both were pretty much the real deal.
You're so right about Kevin, of course. The playing field became unlevel when they drew knives for sous chef. I agree it likely rattled Kevin too much. In the end, what tanked Kevin, though? A piece of pork belly that wasn't spectacular enough, because the bar was set too high? That's pretty much it. And putting bacon in his dessert. So, staying true to himself, cooking pork, he went down. I want to taste the squash that was so divine in his first course, mouth watered for it all night. Oh, and that mushroom. Between the badly cooked mushroom and the pork belly, Kevin went down.

So right about Mikey's overbaked cake, too. If that had been a piece of meat, he'd never have won.

I still wonder who had money on Mike at Vegas. It was a Vegas season, and anyone who had money on Mike to win did better than having money on Kevin.

Did you ever go back and read the live tweets from Bravo sponsored by Salon? Toby was fairly snarky, said something about the father of Padma's baby being a :cough: famous golfer.
Kevin did indeed set himself up as the God of All Things Pork. Which means that any pork coming from him had to be ridiculously perfect or it would be greeted with a shrug.

I'll have to go look at Bravo. And snarking on how Padma got pregnant is very low. Not low enough that Toby won't go there, apparently. But there it is.
Surprised the fuck out of me, too. David and I actually gasped; we were sure Bryan had it. As you said though, it was anyone's title.

And here I thought Jennifer should have gone to the finals rather than Mikey, that advancing both the brothers was a producers' rating gimmick. Wow.
This is 2 seasons in a row where the "favorite" has lost through a lack of execution in the finale. This is where Top Chef gets really interesting although I think Kevin will be more like last season's Fabio than Carla because of his "round young guy" charisma. I was surprised that the judges selected Mike rather than Bryan just as I was surprised last week when Jennifer was sent home rather than Mike. I would love to see an "Iron Chef"-like cook-off between this season's final 4 and last season's final 4. It would be amazing.
Kevin reminds me a little of LeAnn from the first season, who really should have been in the final two but went down. LeAnn had that homey, likable quality that Kevin has; you know you'd love either of them to cook for your personally, and darn it, they could be godparents to your children, too.
Thanks for the recap. I was rooting for Kevin but he didn't deliver in this final. Like you, I thought they were all deserving, so was OK with whoever won. I think that was by far the most dramatic finale I've ever seen on TC! And the judges were having a really hard time holding back tears when Mama V came out to hug her boys. I'm sure Bravo was salivating for an ending just like that.
It was certainly a good season. The ending surprised me but in retrospect it should not have. Mike was the most balls to the wall - and I do think that is a key ingredient for being Top Chef.

But I was a Kevin fan from the beginning. He had me at "Pork." I wanted him to win but I'm not upset that Mike did - there really were 3 outstanding chefs up there. (On the other hand, how did Preeti even get into the competition? Her skill level seems well below par for a chef.)

I would like to make one criticism...

"weird bearded dude Kevin"

What is weird about him? A lot of stories/blogs I've been reading have referred to him as weird - and all mention his beard.

But what's so weird about the guy? He was sweet, intelligent, an AWESOME chef and very down to earth. Is that why he's weird? Because he didn't talk a shi*t and act like King of the Kitchen while winning most of the elimination challenges?

I'm genuinely curious why the "weird" tag was stuck on the guy. I'm just glad I live in Atlanta and can taste his food! :)
I don't get the "weird" label for Kevin either. Cooking chops aside, he seems boringly normal to me, a sweetheart teddy bear kind of guy.
When it came down to it, despite my sworn word not to watch ever again, I watched. I'll blame it on the missus' desire to see the finale. Not really surprised at all how it turned out, seemed that Mikey was the one the show wanted all along, with his hard edges and attitude, the spikey hair, the out-there cooking--the chef as rock star. I too thought Bryan was the clear winner, but like Kevin, just too nice. When Mikey would screw up, he was always given a pass because he took chances and thought outside the oven. Come on, he burns a cupcake and gets a pass? And blames it on his sous chef for filling the tin too high. I almost puked at the end with the crocodile tears and when I heard his comments about how he was so glad big bro was there til the finale when for the entire season he's made sibling rivalry a blood sport. A class-A jerk who will go far in the world of reality television and chef-as-rock star obsessed culture. Note to sponsoring hotels for the Top Chef tour, put away all the breakables in Mikey's room, there's a gonna be some trashin' goin' on. I've really enjoyed your posts, Iron.
I was disappointed. I really wanted Kevin to win, as it would be nice to have someone to represent classic American cooking and taking it to the next level, but obviously he didn't bring it. Failing that it would have been Bryan as my second choice.
My mother was a chef. Our son is a chef. I owned a restaurant and I have to say that Mike really acts like he born to chef. And, I will admit, I have a certain soft spot in my heart for assholes who produce what they said they would. I can kind of understand the ego behind it, the joy in winning when everyone thinks someone else is better. Yay Mike!
I just have a short circuiting brain tonight. I meant to type: Mike really acts like he was born to be a chef.
Last year had a similar ending. All it takes is one bad meal and you loose. Kevin has been consistent but last night he did not have his best meal.

I think they were correct to say Kevin will be a rising star. Country and American cuisine is quickly becoming accepted in its own right.