Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Take a Top Chef Food Tour!

City Food Tours Announces a New NYC Walking Food Tour:
“In the Steps of a Top Chef Tour”

New York, NY, 2009 - Are you a fan of Top Chef? Are you inspired to do more cooking at home or to become a trained chef? City Food Tours introduces an exciting NEW WALKING TOUR: In the Steps of a Top Chef Tour.

The Top Chef themed tour is the only one of its kind. Anyone who is a fan of the show, loves the art of cooking or just wants a great day out in NYC will love this tour! Led by trained, working chefs, this tour lets you walk in the steps of a professional chef, while visiting some of the locations used in the Top Chef television series in Season 5, New York City and other previous seasons. From shopping for ingredients at markets, to learning how to use kitchen knives properly, and on the spot trivia challenges, this tour is plenty of fun!

On this tour, guests will visit some of the neighborhoods, shops, restaurants and landmarks that the contestants went to while in NYC. In addition, learn what it's like to be a chef, taste some great food, and experience things not offered to the public. Guests will also get to participate in interactive challenges along the tour and take a Top Chef Trivia Quiz for prizes.

Enjoy sampling a variety of delicious foods:
· Sample a sandwich at one of Tom Colicchio's eateries, 'wichcraft
· Savory snack made by a former cheftestant from Season 4
· A tasty Chinatown Treat
· Artisan Cheese in Little Italy where Leah from Season 5 shopped

Many real-life locations are featured on the tour, including:
· The location where Carla cooked squab & peas
· Where the chefs shopped for their challenges
· The cooking school where they shot during Season 3

Here’s what people are saying about the tour:
“I loved the Top Chef tour. It was [led] by an excellent tour guide who provided interesting information and cooking tips! I'm still dreaming about those cream cakes!”

An “incredible culinary experience! The food was delicious and all of the stops we made were well chosen. I recommend this tour to anyone who loves food or Top Chef.”

It “offered several insider tips about the show and getting to meet one of the stars at her restaurant was the highlight!” “My son is a big Top Chef fan and he had a great time!”
Tickets for the In the Steps of a Top Chef Tour are $44.95 per person and may be purchased at or via phone at 212.209.3370.

Please Note: This isn't an authorized or official tour. Top Chef is the property of Bravo Media, which is owned by NBC Universal. City Food Tours is not licensed, approved by or otherwise associated with NBC Universal, or any contestant, judge or any other person responsible for appearing on Top Chef. The content is assumed to be within the realm of the Public's Right of "Fair Use" & no copy infringement is intended.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Calling All Diners!

Hey Top Chef fans - have you eaten at any one or more of the Top Cheftestants' restaurants? Did you take photos? We'd love for you to share your experience with our readers.

If you'd like to do a little write-up about your meal, we'd love to post it here on All Top Chef. If you're interested, drop us a line at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TC News & Information 12.27.2009

Richard Blais has teamed up with SousVide Supreme, a home version of the immersion circulator. Find out more information at the SousVide Supreme Web site.

So where is Hosea Rosenberg today? Follow him on his blog, Where is Hosea?

Las Vegas Weekly has an interview with Michael Voltaggio here.

Nice Digs! Bryan Voltaggio is right at home in Home & Design Magazine.

The latest Special Edition of the Creative Loafing Top Chef Podcast features Kevin Gillespie. Click here to listen.

Fox & Friends has six recipes from TC 4's Ryan Scott including "Red Miso and Jagermeister Braised Short Ribs."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Voltaggio Brothers Videos

Michael and Bryan have filmed a series of videos focusing "on our favorite ingredients, techniques, and gadgets." They will begin posting them about once a week starting in January on their site,

Something to look forward to in the New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

Since three members of the All Top Chef team are from Baltimore, I thought it was appropriate to share this video of Baltimore personalities reciting The Night Before Christmas. Especially since one of them is Bryan Voltaggio.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

TC News & Information 12.23.2009

The season is over, but Creative Loafing is continuing its Top Chef podcasts with this interview with Robin Leventhal.

The New York Times is having its 9th Annual Arts & Leisure Weekend January 7-10. The 2010 festivities will include Padma Lakshmi, Eric Ripert, and Gail Simmons. For more information, click here.

Kevin Gillespie is featured Tampa Bay Online's "Table Conversations" podcast.

Top Chef has been nominated for several Tasty Awards, which honor the best in food and fashion programming. Fans can vote for their favorites in the "People's Choice" category by filling out the form here.

Toby Young loves Christmas. How does his wife feel about it? Read Toby's column on the subject here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Bloopers

Miss the reunion show? Sometimes the best part is the blooper reel - and here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Show the World What a Top Chef Nerd You Are

Get your own Top Chef ringtone by texting CHEFTONE to 27286. Message and data rates may apply.

White Hot Chocolate

Bryan Voltaggio has posted the recipe for his White Hot Chocolate, as seen on the Bonnie Hunt Show last week.

Eat Tastefully with Brian Malarkey

Have you noticed the links to Brian Malarkey's healthy versions of the winning Elimination Challenge dishes in our Top Recipe posts? If you've liked what you've seen, you'll love this little app which links to all of the Eat Tastefully videos.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poll - Padma + ? Sitting in a Tree....

Ok, so Padma is being secretive about the father of her unborn child. We don't know if she'll ever reveal his identity, but it's fun to speculate. Who do you think it is?

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Year's Fan Favorite.... surprise here - Kevin Gillespie! And in second place was Bryan Voltaggio.

Congrats, Kevin! Even though you didn't win, the $55K you picked up over the season (including the 10K for Fan Favorite) ain't too shabby.

The Voltaggios on The Bonnie Hunt Show

Completely adorable. Here's the hot cocoa and marshmallow recipe on the Bonnie Hunt Web site, but it's clearly not what they prepared on the show.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

TC News & Information 12.17.09

Boulevard Magazine has a short article on Top Chef Masters host Kelly Choi discussing the holidays in NY.

Eli Kirschstein is leaving Eno in Atlanta for a stint at Solo, a Kosher restaurant, in New York. Will his parents miss him?

Participate in Menu for Hope 6 and get a chance to win a Top Chef/Iron Chef collection including a copy of the Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook autographed by Jen Biesty, Jamie Lauren, and Ryan Scott, Top Chef: The Cookbook, and the Top Chef Quickfire Challenge Game.

Slashfood has a Q&A with TC6 guest judge Nigella Lawson that reveals she owns an astonishing number of cookbooks, among other things.

Poll Results - Fan Favorite Voting

The Top Chef 6 Fan Favorite will be announced tonight at midnight on Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen. According to our poll, 51% of you think that Kevin will win it, followed by Bryan with 26% of the vote. Jen Carroll comes up in third place at a mere 7%.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Reunion Tonight!

Don't forget to watch the Top Chef Las Vegas reunion tonight at 9/10C. It was filmed in Napa in October, so you won't get the scoop on the Fan Favorite voting. For that, you'll have to stay up until midnight and watch Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live! on Thursday the 17th.

Or just come here to All Top Chef on Friday morning. We'll have the goods. :)

Michael Voltaggio and Andy Cohen

Notice how Michael evades the "are you available" question? He gave a similar response to Laura K in her ATC podcast. When you're married, don't you say, "I'm married?" Just sayin'....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part 2

We've made it through yet another season of Top Chef, and by now everyone who reads this blog surely knows what happened and who took home the big prize. But, still, the bloggers need their say...

Cliffieland on what's in the box: "One of the three dishes must use all of the ingredients in this mystery box. (I would make a joke about the movie Seven here. But I’ve never seen it. … But I know what’s in the box. Which is probably why I’ve never seen it. … Moving on.)"

Jordan Baker is happy with the outcome: "I did not for a second, not even up until the very last, not even when Padma said his name (especially after that epic fake out with Kevin, which they’ve NEVER DONE BEFORE), think that Michael was going to win. And I had no idea just how badly I wanted him to win until he did."

Minx Eats on helpers: "Then Padma tells the cheftestants they will have help, and from the surrounding vineyard emerge the first 437 eliminated chefs, from Jen Z to Jen C. Jen C. is carrying the knife block, the sight of which causes Michael to say that there are a couple of names he could pull that would make him slit his own throat."

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Kevin's attitude: "We haven't seen Kevin get angry about anything all season – Justine guesses his having to prep 18 of the 20 things was the tipping point. Liz thinks Kevin's just sore he didn't get to work with his bromance Eli."

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on the strength of the final three: "While it’s easy to argue that these three were groomed from the outset by producers based on their manifold archetypal value — tall good-looking blonde dudes! vicious sibling rivalries! jolly Southern gentlemen! pork fetishes! tattoos! beards! — you can’t knock the numbers: This threesome combined to win 12 of the 13 elimination challenges this season. No joke."

It Happened Last Night on the actual surprises: "Not usual: 1) The chefs' moms were on hand to say hello and eat their boys' food. Bravo totally got a 2-fer for the Voltaggios. 2) Dessert required!"

Starcasm on reactions to the moms: "Kevin: “I opened the door and it was my mom!” (Hugs mom) 'I just couldn’t be happier! To see the person that inspired me throughout my life at this moment…it just couldn’t be better!' Voltaggio Brothers: 'Mother present. Compute. Hug mother. Pat back. Talk about childhood. Reboot. Process menu for tomorrow.'"

Christenam on, well, yep: "In an interview Kevin says he lost half of his prep time due to being angry. It seems that Kevin is going to be this season's Richard Blais or Casey Thompson and choke."

TV Watch on the ending: "In the end, the judges’ tough decision came down to the two brothers after the panel determined that Kevin was an outstanding chef who simply had an off night. Their pick of Michael over Bryan was an emotional one, Colicchio told the brothers, but the Voltaggios vowed that they’d rather be up against each other than any other chef out there."

Showtracker on why Michael was the right choice: "He also told us incessantly that his food was bold, risky and surprising. He was right. I'd even add that his food was more bold, risky and surprising than anyone else in "Top Chef" history. (Only Richard Blais might have been even more of a mad scientist in the kitchen.) "

Speakeasy (WSJ) on the twist: "Just when they’ve started to relax, there’s a twist. In honor of their mothers, the finalists now have to create a fourth dish, inspired by their favorite childhood food memory. Great, thanks a lot, Moms."

Slashfood on the big questions: "By now, we know "Top Chef" is all about tough questions: 'Are you proud of what you cooked?' 'Who was really responsible for the disgusting part of your dish?' 'Why in God's name did you serve me raw lamb?' But last night, we got the toughest one yet: 'Which son do you like better?... C'mon, you can tell us -- we're just 10 people who are about to critique both of them into oblivion!'"

Fork in the Road (Village Voice) on the desserts: "And finally, thank god, finally, it was time for dessert. Stephen Starr called foul on Kevin's decision to use bacon in his toasted banana with chocolate bacon mousse and peanut bacon brittle (so first quarter 2009!), and everyone agreed that Michael's vulcanized-looking chocolate caramel coulant with butternut squash ice cream and butternut brulee was a wee bit overcooked. Bryan's dulce de leche cheesecake with fig sorbet was the big winner: Gail looked like she was about to climb right out of her dress."

TV Squad on the mom course: "I love the idea of having the chefs create a first course that reminds them of childhood memories, especially since we got such good stories out of it. Kevin's mom loves fried chicken skin! Brian was inspired by the texture in his mother's simple dishes, while Michael was a picky eater who 'hated everything.' I guess he got past that."

Max the Girl on Preeti: "Can we just establish something upfront? Preeti sucks. If there’s one thing I love about chefs, even mediocre chefs, it’s their knifework. It might take me 5 minutes to cut a tomato, but it will take a good chef 15 seconds flat. It takes Preeti an hour and 12 minutes. I timed her once."

Reality TV World with Toby's words on Kevin: "'I thought Kevin's dish was again disappointing and -- don't get me wrong, I think he's on the fast-track to becoming a culinary superstar -- but he had a bad night,' said Toby."

Videogum on what we all want: "If there is one thing you can say about this season finale (I'm sure there is only one thing, this is probably the last sentence of this recap), there is no one to root against. For probably the first time in Top Chef history, everyone in the finale is a chef performing at the top of his tattoos game. Each of them brings a different quality to the kitchen, and it would be great if all of them could win. Just kidding. TEAR EACH OTHER TO SHREDS. I'm not here to watch people make friends."

Omnivore on history repeating itself: "'Top Chef' has a history of choosing two types of characters for the win. Save for maybe season four’s Stephanie whose soft spoken personality and consistent cooking were endearing, the winners have all fallen into two categories: boring (ie, Hosea) or villain (ie, Hung). While I don’t think that personality has much to do with the final decision – I’ll give 'Top Chef' a little more credit than that – it is frustrating to see Michael and his surly personality win over two equally talented chefs whose egos are a little less overbearing."

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) toasts everyone: "Here’s to you, Michael Voltaggio. Now, will you please be nice to your brother? And here’s to you, Bryan Voltaggio. And Kevin Gillespie! Jen! Other Jen with the seitan! Eli! Hector! Pin-mouth girl! Maligned Robin who is not Eli’s mom! Pretti of Google! Eve from Planet Michigan! Ron of the tropical fish piles! Ash and Ashley, boy and girl! Monsieur Mattin who cornered the market on kerchiefs! Various other cooks I no longer recall!"

Limecrete with more on history: "I can appreciate a meritorious winner, but it's nice when the victor also has an enjoyable personality, and in six seasons of this show, that has happened twice. Not exactly the best track record, in that regard."

Procrastiblog on the lesson future cheftestants should take away: "I think the lesson of Kevin’s two part finale experience is that Top Chef is not the place for slow-cooked meats. It seems to me that you rarely get the time you need in an elimination challenge to properly cook a brisket or a pork belly (though, Shyamalan twist, Michael won with a pork belly back in the Thunderbirds episode)."

Everything is Better With Bacon on It

This was brought to my attention by the lovely Vavi.

Monday, December 14, 2009

All Top Chef Interview with Kevin Gillespie

Chef Kevin talks about his experience on the show and his plans for the future.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef!

All Top Chef Interview with Bryan Voltaggio

Top Chef finalist, Bryan Voltaggio talks about his experience on the show, his Maryland restaurant, Volt, and his plans for the future.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Bryan.

Top Chef Las Vegas Reunion Previews

Sunday, December 13, 2009

TC News & Information 12.14.2009

Here's an article from Downtown News on the trials and tribulations faced by Top Chef season 2 winner Ilan Hall while opening his restaurant, the Gorbals.

From the "Just Because theminx Thinks It's Funny" Department: Michael Voltaggio is quoted as saying, "I partake of a hurt and fork on my give gone, which is on the give gone I play to leaf eatables with to prompt myself that people are with regard to to dine this." What? Obviously a translation of a the whole item here. (Here's the original article.)

Meal Ticket, the excellent food blog of the Philly City Paper, has a great interview with restaurateur Stephen Starr about his role in the Top Chef Las Vegas finale.

Top Chef season 5 cheftestant Rich Sweeney talks about season six, the finale, and the San Diego restaurant scene. Read it here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Michael Voltaggio on the Tonight Show

If you missed Michael with Conan O'Brien Thursday night, then check him out right here.

Top Recipe, Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part 2

Check out Brian Malarkey's version of Michael's rockfish dish here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Exit Interview - Winner Michael Voltaggio

Exit Interview - Bryan Voltaggio

All Top Chef Interview with Michael Voltaggio

Top Chef Season Six Champion talks about his experience on the show and his plans for the future. Thank you Chef Michael.
Click here for the podcast.

Exit Interview - Kevin Gillespie

TC News & Information 12.11.2009

The blog Heavenly Truth did astrology charts for all three Top Chef finalists. Kevin's can be found here. Bryan's here, and finally...Michael's. Did the stars reveal the winner?

The Baltimore Sun wants to know if competing on Top Chef is a blessing or a curse.

The Washington Post hosted a live chat with the Voltaggio Brothers on December 9th. You can read the transcript here.

Aww...Kevin and his wife broke up before the trip to Napa. Did that have an effect on his performance?

Century City and ironnori™ proudly introduce the BREADBAR | HATCHI Series: 8 Dishes at 8 Dollars. This unique venture features a different guest chef every month preparing an original, one-night-only suite of eight plates, including six 'savory' dishes and two 'sweet' creations. Former Top Chef contestant Marcel Vigneron will be whipping up a modern, global tasting menu that will include POM Wonderful on 12/17/2009. Contact Breadbar for more details.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Michael V on TV

New Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio will be making an appearance on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien tonight.

As reported yesterday, the Brothers V are working on a joint venture. Reader Kristine found this for us:

Just in Case You Missed It....

Poll Results - Who Will It Be?

Was this season's winner a shock, or what? Only 13% of readers thought Michael would be crowned Top Chef. Kevin got nearly half the vote, and he came in third.

So why did we all have so little faith in the younger Voltaggio brother? Isn't he just as talented as his competition? Or did our votes smack more of a popularity contest?

Congratulations, Chef (Michael) Voltaggio!

What a finale. Last night, all three chefs cooked food that was heartily praised by the judges - and their mothers. But, as Padma always says, only one can be Top Chef. This season, that one is Chef Michael Voltaggio.

During the finale, Chef Voltaggio especially wowed the judges with his interpretation of the "ingredients in the box" course, especially his spot-on preparation of the matsutake mushroom. Overall, his dishes were praised for their texture, their complexity, and their creativity.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Voltaggio. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part II's Michael! Who, if my very scientific survey of my Facebook friends is any indication, wasn't exactly the fan favorite, though it seems like most people agree his cooking was good enough to win. But then again, whose wasn't?

The chefs woke up on another gorgeous day in Napa to meet Padma, looking pretty gorgeous in yellow (though I still can't get into the bangs). She explained to them that their final challenge would consist of three courses. For the first course, the chefs would cook a meal using all the ingredients in a "mystery box." For the second, they'd cook anything they want, with anything in the kitchen. And for the third...the dreaded dessert.

Of course, they'd have help. The entire crew of eliminated chefs showed up and, in a twist on other seasons, the final three selected from the knife block to determine who would sous for them that day, during prep, and the next, leading up to service.

Bryan must have been psyched, choosing Ashley for prep and Jennifer (!) for day two. Michael was pleased, too, with a very blonde Jesse ("a workhorse") and Eli. Kevin, well, not so happy. He was cool with selecting Ash for day two, but not so cool about working with Preeti of the pasta salad on day one - and it showed, when he gave her very few tasks, most of which involved cutting vegetables (and she wasn't really coming through on even that).

They all got through day one with few scrapes, after having learned that their "mystery box" included the unlikely mix of Pacific rockfish, Dungeness crab, Meyer lemon, kabocha squash, mastutake mushrooms, and anise hyssop. There was a little complaining about how disjointed the ingredients were, but I'll have to take the chefs' word for it, since, East Coast girl that I am, I've never had most of those ingredients.

In the morning, the chefs are expecting - and dreading - a twist. In one of the sweeter moments all season, that twist turned out to be the arrival of their moms, who were both very nice and very proud. The rest of the twist: add a new first course, making four courses total. This new dish was to be something based on a favorite childhood meal.

Everybody made great food, with nice stories, though none of them felt like they'd hit it out of the park. Michael overcooked a cake, Kevin undercooked a pork belly (but he liked it). The judges considered some of Bryan's dishes underseasoned (though Toby's palate shows its Britishness, as he's all about Bryan's "restraint").

In the end, Michael took the title, though as Kevin said, it was clear that any one of them could've won on any given day. There were hugs and tears all around - even from Michael, who was all (to paraphrase), "See, Padma, even tattooed robots have a 'cry' setting."

A few random thoughts:
  • Man, Napa is pretty. Isn't it just radiant?
  • In this episode, the sous chefs weren't given anywhere near the screen time they were in past seasons. I wonder if that was by producer design, or by contestant design? Did the chefs learn from past finalists mistakes (ahem, Carla)?
  • Is there an Atlanta curse? Not that Kevin is anything like Richard Blais in terms of food, but they're both really well-liked professionals...and both kind of choked at the final hour. Blais more so than Kevin, but still. What's in the water in the Dirty South?
  • Love the baby pics. Apparently I am soft.
  • Speaking of soft, I'm still wondering if there's room in Top Chef Town for two sets of boobies. Because Padma's giving Gail a run for her money.
  • Did anyone else think that the "why I deserve to be Top Chef" spiels were a little weak? It seemed like everyone's answer boiled down to, "I love food." Well, so do I, but I'm not putting on chefs' whites anytime soon.
So, what did you think? Was Michael the rightful winner? Who's up for fan favorite? How'd those meals look to you? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TC News & Information 12.09.2009 part deux

Kevin Gillespie thinks he's been portrayed accurately. Read about this and more in Paste Magazine's interview with Kevinhere.

The Voltaggio brothers have concocted some plans together that we'll see "in the next week or so." (Does that mean neither of them win?) Read the whole DCist interview with Bryan here.

Join Fancast for a live chat with the winner, tomorrow afternoon 2ET/11PT.

TC News & Information 12.09.2009

What are the odds that any of the three remaining cheftestants will be Top Chef? BuddyTV has answers, as does Las Vegas Weekly.

Watch the finale with Stephanie Izard and finale guest judge Bill Terlato at theWit hotel in Chicago. More details can be found here.

Mark your calendars - Kevin Gillespie will be competing for a spot on the Bocuse d'Or team on February 6th! Read all about it here.

Padma is still proudly showing off her baby bump!

Who Will It Be?

Tonight is the big night, the one we've been waiting for for about 17 (or is it 18?) weeks now. Someone will finally be given the title of "Top Chef." All three remaining cheftestants - Bryan, Michael, and Kevin - are indeed worthy. But only one can win. Who will it be?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Top Chef Finale Virtual Viewing Party! and...A Contest!

Ok - first: Bravo is having a Top Chef Finale Virtual Viewing Party! Fans will be able to chat and submit questions LIVE on Facebook, Twitter, and from their mobile phones! Judge Toby Young, the Voltaggio brothers, Ash, Kevin, and others will be tweeting for the East Coast broadcast and Robin will tweet for the West Coast broadcast.

RSVP for the event on Facebook here.

Follow BravoTV on Twitter:

You can also check out this page to follow the party.

And now for the real fun - All Top Chef will be giving away a $100 gift card to the Bravo store to one lucky winner, and a copy of the Top Chef Quickfire computer game to another! Two chances to win!

Here's how you do it - just participate in the Top Chef Finale Virtual Viewing Party tomorrow night. Leave a comment on this post about the fun you're having while chatting with Toby, Ash, Bryan, and the rest of the gang: tell us what questions you may have asked, and especially let us know if you got an answer from anyone! If you can't make it to the party, then leave a comment with the questions that you would like to ask Michael, Bryan, and Kevin, if you had the opportunity to ask them. (You may actually hear your question asked by the lovely Laura K when she does the exit interviews on Thursday.)

We'll pick two names at random from the comments, the first person we choose will get the gift card, and the second will get the game. But you can't win unless you comment - please leave them between 10PM and 3AM ET (yeah, we're generous like that) on December 9th to qualify for a prize.

Have fun!

Results - Guess the Tats

With few exceptions, this season's cheftestants are all tatted up. We thought it would be fun to see if you could guess which tattoos belonged to whom. Here are the results:

#1 49% guessed Michael Voltaggio but this tattoo belongs to Jennifer Zavala.

#2 62% guessed Jennifer Carroll but the tat belongs to Mattin Noblia.

#3 72% guessed Mike Isabella, which is correct.

#4 59% guessed Ashley Merriman, which is correct.

#5 43% guessed Bryan Voltaggio, which is correct. (I thought this would be more difficult, since Bryan had no arm tattoos during the filming in Vegas.)

#6 78% guessed Kevin Gillespie, but this tattoo belongs to Jesse Sandlin.

#7 58% guessed Michael Voltaggio, which is correct.

#8 62% guessed Laurine Wickett, which is correct.

#9 50% guessed Mike Isabella, which is correct.

#10 84% guessed Kevin Gillespie, which is correct.

Want to see more Top Chef tattoos? Check out this photo gallery.

A Top Chef Ghost Story

While filming the Judges' Table during the first part of the finale, the cameras may have captured footage of the ghost of Chimney Rock Winery.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part 1

This week on Top Chef: trains, grapes, and duck. Also: Michael Chiarello (aka the most polarizing chef ever). Jen goes home, Bryan wins, everybody's still professional and talented. So what do the bloggers think?

Cliffieland on Kevin's best-defense-is-a-good-offense strategy: "Kevin beats them to the punch, saying he knew his meat has a “toothsome” quality. We hear later that he said that preemptively. 'toothsome ˈtoōθsəmadjective(of food) temptingly tasty : a toothsome morsel.informal (of a person) good-looking; attractive.' The beardy one has wiles we had not yet seen! Kudos on the strategy."

Jordan Baker on my favorite silver fox: "Also, it’s hard to feel sorry for her when her horrible fate is that she now has to go back and work for my secret baby daddy Eric Ripert. It’s a real case of the world’s smallest violin playing hearts and flowers just for her – frankly, if given the choice of winning Top Chef and the bounty that goes with it or going back to my job where I got to be near Eric Ripert on the regular, I would be torn."

Minx Eats on Chiarello + Voltaggio: "A train pulls in from which emerges a pregnant Padma wearing a tight sweater dress that shows off her baby bump. With her is my least favorite Top Chef Masters finalist, Michael Chiarello. We then hear Michael Voltaggio proclaim Chiarello "awesome," which only adds to my Voltaggio-fueled annoyance."

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Kevin the locavore: "Bearded Kevin says he cooks 100 percent locally at his restaurant in Atlanta so that might give him an advantage, but it seems to us that the local stuff in north-central Georgia might not be the same as the stuff in Napa. But that's just us."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Padma's mom gear: "The three month gap also means that we get to see pregnant Padma Lakshmi, working all sorts of funky maternity gear, ranging from a clingy white dress to a bizarre, black bondage-esque get-up with red boots (perhaps she missed the memo about moving to Napa?)."

Reality TV Magazine quotes Jen: "This season was crazy with all the competitors on the show. I knew the Voltaggio brothers; I also knew who people worked for and their background. [But] Kevin was just consistent throughout the entire competition. He was funny. He would always be like, 'I make such simple food.' But his food was not simple. It may look simple but it was so complex and so flavorful. I thought he was really my biggest competition."

TV Watch ( on cheffy trash talk: "Before the knives came out, the tough talk did. 'I want to beat [Michael] to show him simple cooking can win,' Kevin said. Jennifer, meanwhile, was more direct: 'I’m ready to cook my f—ing ass off. Second place is still a loser, so I really want to win.'"

PB Pulse on crush parties, and what every former sorority girl probably thought: "The elimination challenge takes us to the Rutherford Hills Winery, where they are having a crush party, which totally sounds like some arcane Upper East Side tradition where Blair, Serena and the gang from “Gossip Girl” wear masks and engage in soul crushing social treachery and pretending to be 40-year-old divorcees. But really, the only things getting crushed here are grapes."

Herald-Mail (Frederick, MD) on Bryan's food: "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. "

Premium Hollywood on contestant changes: "Kevin’s hair was different (and there was less of it)and Jen looked like she had gotten some sleep. The brothers Voltaggio pretty much looked and acted exactly the same."

Omnivore (Creative Loafing) on what the show was all about: "If there was one thing last night’s penultimate episode of “Top Chef” Las Vegas focused on, it was, believe it or not, the food."

The Kitchn on local, local, local: "Kevin was feeling confident because his restaurant in Atlanta is "100 percent local." Bryan said he cares more about local food than Michael does. Michael, however, said he is like rubber and Bryan is like glue which totally makes him more local. OK, we made that last part up. "

Eater NY on umbrellas and movie references: "They are such a Team Strikeforce of strong cooking. Very bad ass. It is like that scene in the beginning of Ronin when all those ex-espionage guys are gathered in the little French cafe waiting to see what their next mission is. Is that reference too obscure? Maybe it's like The Usual Suspects then. 'The greatest trick the Voltaggio brothers ever pulled was convincing the world they don't have umbrellas.'"

Gawker on the Prius: "Mike Voltaggio wins the Quickfire challenge and thus a Prius, proving also dickheads drive Priuses."

Slashfood on Jen's strategy shift: "But when a wood fire burned itself out and she was forced to cook her locally sourced duck confit instead of on the grill, she couldn't manage to spin the compromise into a story. Even after the judges praised her use of the entire duck in the dish, she 'fessed up and revealed that she would've preferred the smoky flavor of her initial plan. Of all the talents Jen may have, a poker face is not among them."

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on Jen's ride: "Jen reveals that she drives a 2000 Chevy Cavalier, which endears me to her even more — I’ll race you down Broad in my ‘98 Civic with the cracked-ass back bumper, Jen!"

Food Network Musings on Padma's grammar: "I LOVE that Padma says, “You’ll serve your dish to Michael and ME.” She doesn’t throw around the word “I” indiscriminately AND incorrectly."

Mama Pop on sweet, rotting Napa: "Our remaining four heroes have made it to Napa. Ahhhh. Napa. I can smell the rotting grapes. No, really, I was there in October and on the last day I was a little hungover and the smell started really getting to me."

Relatively Entertaining with a good analogy: "You know that phrase, “any given Sunday”? The one that means on any given day, all football teams are equal. Any of them could take any given day, because the general level of play is so high and the game is so complex, so unpredictable, so subject to chance and luck and heart and the mood of the crowd and injury and weather. Even in cases where one team is the better team on paper, you can’t assume they’ll win. Well, that’s how I feel about the season 6 finale."

Las Vegas Weekly on the Facebook group: "But only can win. (And only one has a Facebook page in support of his bushy red beard. Not that that guarantees the $100,000, but it’s a different kind of victory, if you ask me.)"

Express Night Out on motion sickness + grapes: "Poor, dear, bearded Kevin. Upon hearing the train twist, he informs us that he gets motion sick. But instead of grumbling about it, he gets right down to business making a honey and fromage blanc mousse, topped with glazed grapes and olive oil and sea salt. And he manages not to blow chunks in the process!"

LJ World on some seriously prepared chefs: "It seems in season’s past many of the chefs psych themselves out or are clearly out of practice, but these folks almost seemed like they went home and did quick fire drills in their restaurants every night."

Box Office Prophets with a previous season recap and a good point: "This is the first time in the history of the show that the most talented, most capable chefs made it all the way to the finale. In Season 1, we missed LeeAnn. In Season 2, Cliff was disqualified before the finale. In Season 3, Tre was left out. In Season 4, Dale imploded during Restaurant Wars. In Season 5, Jaime got tripped up on seafood."

DC Restaurant News Examiner on Jen's downfall: "Allowing the grill to sputter forced her into confit as the preparation for her duck and her fois gras vinaigrette gained acclaim for taste, but was not present enough in the final presentation of the dish to show its worth. Her lack of focus in the end sent her packing."

Poptimal with more about Chiarello + Voltaggio: "The good news is, Chiarello is less of a jerk this time around, probably due to editing because he’s not the star. Michael talks about his great respect for Chiarello, which isn’t surprising, personality-wise. I can imagine these two getting along really well."

Max the Girl on the coifs: "As first reported right here in this blog, tonight’s episode was all about hair. Kevin went to the barber and apparently asked for 'The Keebler.' Padma inexplicably decided to rock pregnancy bangs. Jen continued her grand tradition of 'I don’t give a shit' in a ponytail and 'I don’t give a shit' down on her shoulders. Gallant looked exactly the same, because steadfast consistency is one of his most Gallant-like qualities. And Goofus asked his stylist to make him look like a contestant on Chef Academy. Unfortunately, she misunderstood and made him look like a contestant on Tool Academy."

Limecrete on manufactured sibling rivalry: "A hideous Frankenbyte makes Bryan sound angry about Michael beating him to the small prep space, but it's so obviously cobbled together from different quotes, Bryan may as well have been talking about standing in line at the DMV."

Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part Two Previews

Sunday, December 6, 2009

TC News & Information 12.6.09

The latest street food news: Ketel One-branded trucks dispensing free chef-made food will be in New York from today (December 3) through December 5, then moving to Chicago December 10 to 12, then L.A. December 15 to 17. Rick Bayless is the Chicago chef and Ilan Hall is the L.A. chef. In addition to free food, Ketel One will be offering free rides home (to promote responsible drinking over the holidays). Check out the list of locations and menus here.

Spork or Foon blogger Teanna interviewed Danny Gagnon for Spot On Long Island. Read it here.

Hosea Rosenberg offers 10 Thoughts.

Season 1 champ Harold Dieterle and guest judge Johnny Iuzzini are in competition for the title of NY's Hottest Chef. Vote for your fave here.

and finally...Tom Colicchio offers advice on dining out with baby.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top Recipe, Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part 1

Click here to watch Brian Malarkey cook a lighter version of Bryan's short rib dish.

Friday, December 4, 2009

All Top Chef Interview with Jennifer Carroll

Chef Jennifer Carroll talks about her experience on Top Chef, how she stays in shape and how her life has changed since appearing on the show.

Thank you Chef Jen!

Click here for the podcast.

Exit Interview - Jennifer Carroll

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ATC Love to Chef Carroll

Tonight we said goodbye to Chef Jennifer Carroll, after a hard fought season, and a hard fought challenge, in which all the chefs delivered amazing food. As judge Tom Colicchio said, everyone's dishes were excellent, but someone had to go home and unfortunately, that someone was Chef Carroll, who's chevre mousse was an interesting combination, but a bit oversalted.

In addition, Chef Carroll was a little scattered in the kitchen and had to change her game plan when coals she prepared to grill duck went out. Overall, however, the judges enjoyed her dishes and wished her well.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Carroll. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Congratulations, Chef (Bryan) Voltaggio!

This week marks the fourth win for Chef Bryan Voltaggio, who impressed the diners and the judges with his goat cheese ravioli with squash puree and fig-glazed short ribs.

The judges praised every part of his dish, but specifically noted that the squash puree hit the mark both in terms of flavor and texture, and that his short ribs were incredibly flavorful, even considering the tight time constraints.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Voltaggio. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 13

And then there were four.

This week, it was off to Napa for the first part of the finale. As the episode opens, a newly curly-haired Jen met Kevin (somehow scruffier?) and the brothers Voltaggio (still emotionless, even when they're discussing emotions) at a train station in Napa Valley.

The episode was all about Napa: grapes, local foods, an oddly humble Michael Chiarello. And, of course, Padma's baby bump (and her bangs, which I can't get used to). After a Quickfire in which they team cooked on the Napa Wine Train (and Michael V. won a 3G Prius), they were tasked with cooking two dishes, one vegetarian, one featuring a local protein, for 150 guests. The catch: only use local ingredients. Not exactly the most miserable challenge they've faced. Napa during crush is local ingredient heaven.

From my sofa, it looked like all the food created was pretty fantastic, and the judges made it clear that nobody was going home for major mistakes. Kevin's brisket was a little "toothsome," Michael's egg was a tiny bit undercooked, and Jen's chevre mousse was unevenly salted, but this episode sorely lacked the major food disasters we've seen in past episodes.

Ultimately, Bryan won with his goat cheese ravioli with squash puree and fig-glazed short ribs. Jen, unfortunately, got PPYKAG'ed, for the oversalting and some scattered behavior in the kitchen.

A couple of observations:
  • Kevin's beard has a Facebook page? I'd join. As a side note, I like the way they show the contestants talking about the effect of the show. It's more real than shows that pretend they're really living in the real, non-reality TV, world.
  • Poor Jen still drives a 2000 Chevy Cavalier. I do not, however, feel sorry for her that she still listens to her high school mix tapes. I love high school mix tapes. And I would love to know what's on her tapes. I'll do a tape trade with you, Jen!
  • Eric Ripert is proud of Jen. Thanks for the reminder that you have instant access to the hottest chef EVER. Chef-loving ladies (and some guys) all over the world are jealous of you, Jen.
  • Padma's maternity gear: an off-the-shoulder hoodie at the QF and red hooker boots for the Elimination? Nice. In all seriousness, she looks fantastic. I couldn't help but wonder how pregnancy is affecting her taste buds, though. During my own time as a pregnant lass, I never could've judged a food competition, unless the contest was "best Mexican/Thai food" or "best cheap chocolate."
  • The Michael-Kevin rivalry (technique vs. flavor) has got to be the mildest rivalry in the history of any show ever.
  • Finally - HELLO, Gail's boobies!
They certainly are an impressive, professional crew (the contestants, not just the boobs). But what did you think? Foodie and fabulous or lacking in that reality TV drama we all know and love? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TC News & Information 12.2.2009

Ryan Scott is one hot chef, according to this Examiner article.

Capital Spice has an interview with Michael Voltaggio here.

Jennifer Carroll's restaurant, 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert, is having two finale viewing parties, this week and next. Suspicious, any?

Padma bares all for Page Six Magazine. See?

Pick up your issue on Thursday.

Don't forget SkilletDoux's Power Rankings!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Poll - Finale Part 1

Four chefs left, but only three will participate in the final challenge. Who's not going to make it?

Meet Top Chefs, Drink Wine, Buy Cookbooks!

Click image to embiggen