December 10th, 2009
01:30 PM ET

And the new 'Top Chef' winner is....

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The perpetual little brother of the kitchen, Michael Voltaggio has been crowned Bravo’s newest Top Chef.

The producers really turned last night’s finale of “Top Chef” into a  family affair, capitalizing on the shtick of having two brothers in the finale. Not only did the cooking competition pit Bryan and Michael Voltaggio against one another but the show flew in the finalists’ moms to offer last minute support and then brought them to the dinner table to taste their son’s creations. Cute, but also a little awkward!

For the final challenge the chefs were faced with the preparation of a four-course meal (the fourth course was sprung on them mid-challenge), for the judges at the two-Michelin star restaurant Cyrus.

The first course had to be prepared with a mystery box of identical ingredients (no one ever likes to work out of the mystery box) provided to each chef, the second course was a free for all and the third course had to be dessert.

As in seasons past, former contestants we brought in to sous chef the finalists, but in an added twist the helpers were chosen at random, always adding drama in a kitchen where not everyone was compatible this season.

Kevin, in particular was antsy with his selection of Preeti, complaining that he had 20 items to prep but he didn’t trust Preeti with more than two of them. Poor Preeti was just chopping her little heart out, but looked relieved to be able to head home at the end of the day.

After a stressful day of preparation the chef’s got a surprise knock on the door of their suite. Anticipating another twist, turn or wrench from the judges, they were pleasantly surprised by a visit from their moms who were there to offer support. Of course, with that support came another twist; the judges added a fourth course to the meal, one inspired by mom’s cooking.

Poor Bryan and Michael’s mom had to play both sides of the fence, offering encouragement to both of her sons and trying not to play favorites (although it did seem like she wanted Bryan to win just a little bit more).

“You want them both to do well but ultimately there is one winner,” Mama Voltaggio lamented.

The moms were brought to the table to judge their course. In one of the more awkward "Top Chef" moments of all time the judges asked Michael and Bryan's mom which of her sons’ dishes she liked the best. Thankfully she refused to answer the question.

Kevin's mom was just as adorable and down-homey as her son. Even when the judges threw her a curve ball question she answered it like a pro, raving about how she just likes anything Kevin makes.

A Bravo poll taken during the season-ending episode revealed that a big 58% of voters wanted the comfort-food cooking all around nice guy who can add bacon to just about anything, Kevin to take home the top honor.

But that wasn’t to be. The judges sent Kevin out of the room first, upping the tension by making their final choice between the two brothers and finally crowing Michael the Top Chef.

“I’m more proud that Bryan and I made it all the way to the end than I am about winning competition,” Michael said. But you have to wonder whether the super competitive little brother would have been so gracious had he not taken home the win.

At the end of the day, Michael did deserve to win the competition, he was a strong chef who wasn't afraid to take risks, but the judge’s selection never sits well with everyone and it always feels a little staged when the two contestants with a personal relationship or big beef end up in the finale together.

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soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Peggy

    Agree with most points – horriible editing; judge/show bias in having a "final showdown" between the brothers; and wrong V bro won. I also agree that Kevin is destined for stardom. I was a Kevin fan the entire season; and having dined several times at his restaurant can say his food in INCREDIBLE!!! And he is just as nice in person as he was during the show. Plus, his staff LOVE him (says alot about him as staff usually hate their chef....think Gordon Ramsey). All I can say, is Kevin is a class act who is an incredibly talented chef....he had a bad night - Not sure if due to Preeti or "mystery box" or personal issues (not many people know that his marriage broke up the week of the finale). I am definitely pulling for him to win "fan favorite"!

    December 12, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Falinor

    Lynn, I have to disagree. In the fine print they always show at the end it states that the judges made their decision with input from the producers. It's not all about the food as we would love to believe. It's about good television, and those judges want another paycheck and another season just as much as the producers. It's mostly about the food, but in truth it's also about the ratings.

    December 12, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Megan

    One thing that seems to have slipped through the cracks: the comment made by a couple of the judges that Kevin is on a fast track for culinary superstardom. Even though he didn't have his best day, his talent was far from lost on the panel of those who were judging the results, and while Michael won the on-camera competition, he may not be the last man standing five years from now.

    Time is a great leveller, and Kevin's talent is very real. It will be interesting to see where the top three are in a few years, since the brothers seem bent on staying competitve with each other while Kevin's approach is to enjoy those who enjoy good food.

    December 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Helena

    I liked Michael. his personality shouldn't have an effect on his food. i think he deserved to win because he was consistent throughout the show.

    December 11, 2009 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jeana

    Again....the wrong chef won....second season. I wont bother watching again. It's rigged in the weirdest of ways and I wont be treated like some idiot by this network again.

    December 11, 2009 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. holly

    He could cook best and that was what the contest was for, not some stupid popularity contest, its pathetic how everyone thinks the good guy should win everything. HE DESERVED IT!

    December 11, 2009 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lisa

    Can anyone say editing?????

    December 11, 2009 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kenneth Lee

    Like many viewers, I was pulling for Kevin to win all the proverbial marbles. He was very true to his food beliefs and never wavered, and the fact he was never derogatory towards any of his competitors and managed to remain a cordial "good guy" as well simply made me wish the victory for him.

    That said, Michael Voltaggio appears to have won fairly. The Top Chef judges made clear that regardless of previous record, only the food from this elimination would count towards or against victory and Kevin unfortunately just didn't have a good day. I think he was somewhat demoralized by drawing Preeti as his sous-chef and he spent too much time and energy moping about it instead of concentrating on his food and menu. This appears to set the tone for the remainder of the contest for Kevin and his food appeared to reflect it: passionless, not 100% perfectly-contructed, somewhat out of synch. I agree Michael Voltaggio made some less than decorous comments and was not an angel, but I think this was a reflection on his competitve spirit. Although he seemed to admire Jennifer and to be good friends with her, he was dispassionate when she appeared to be heading out for the count, stating that's the nature of the game. Although we don't like to our heroes to be like that, in reality, that is often the way life is played. Michael has also shown a good heart, as he displayed when he split his elimination challenge $10K winnings with his restaurant wars teammates and also when he expressed in his blog on the Top Chef site that he wishes Bryan won (although admittedly this may have been faux emotions done for show-biz; it's easy to say this when one is the winner). I think Gail mentioned in her own blog that she was able to observe Michael running his kitchen before he entered "Top Chef" and he seemed to galvanize the kitchen staff with his charisma, techniques, and interest in making sure everyone did well in his kitchen without berating them.

    The discord about who should have won also was experienced by the judges. Blogs by both Tom Colicchio and Toby Young (maintained and viewable on the site, Top Chef section) reveal the judges disagreed about who was "Top Chef", although the discordance was primarily between the Voltaggio brothers. I think Tom Colicchio was entirely correct when he said any of the three (or even four, if Jennifer had been allowed to compete) finalists could have won. Regardless of our feelings, I think Michael was certainly a valid choice for Top Chef. I look forward to following the fortunes of the top four finalists in the future.

    December 11, 2009 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. pappy

    Good Lord people give the guy a break, has anyone heard of Gordon Ramsey, now there is a self centered, abusive jerk. Michael deserved to win as did his brother, but there can only be 1 and he proved himself to be a professional,talented, no nonense chef who has high expectations for himself and his team.

    December 10, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jenns

    The level of skill between the final four was unprecedented. Essentially,i it came down to salt.

    As to Michael, his arrogance could be editing or the fact he would simply say what everyone was thinking, with exceptions to Kevin. Kevin can do no wrong.

    December 10, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ginger

    I couldn't disagree with you more Shannon. I was pulling for Jennifer most of the time until it became very obvious that her heart wasn't in it. I don't know if it was lack of confidence, fear of failure or what but she completely unraveled. Despite a tiny comeback towards the end, she didn't stand a chance against the three eventual finalists. Arrogant Michael may be but he's an awesome chef with innovative ideas. I think anyone of those 3 could have won.

    December 10, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 96816Guy

    I am sure the Voltaggio brothers originally entered and were chosen to be on the show because of their relatively high caliber cooking AND the possible drama surrounding siblings vying for the same prize. It really does seem right that Michael won Top Chef on that night. As Kevin said, on any given night any of those three could have won–it just all had to be working for your that night. Michael's meal seemed closer to perfection than Kevin's or Bryan's meal that night. While there is no doubt that Jen is a good chef, she clearly showed that she cracks under pressure. She should have been eliminated weeks earlier, but, given a second chance, she still made a mental error with the wood burning grill. Now, if we can only get more Top Chef winners to actually put forth a restaurant worth visiting!

    December 10, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paula

    Michael was my favorite, He had his arrogant moments-but I put half of it down to editing and the other half to thinking his food was almost always spot-on, so he deserved a little ego.

    His brother Bryan was a little too safe, and Kevin, although a great chef with a winning personality, didn't seem quite as passionate about cooking as Michael did.

    I really thought this was for most part, a great season and I'd buy a Top Chef cookbook of just this season's recipes!

    December 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AA

    Melissa, I think the difference between Michael and Stefan's perceived arrogance is that Michael seemed very mean-spirited (constantly yelling at other people, trash talking others' plates), whereas Stefan was simply full of himself, but refrained from dissing others.

    December 10, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Henry

    The result and the fact that the two brothers remained proves that the show is about marketing and sales, not about who can cook the best. All of these shows are "cooked" to improve ratings and if you don't know or think that, you are crazy.

    December 10, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Skippy

    Kevin won a lot of competitions, but it was the last one that matters. He did get (I think) about $50k in prize money for quickfires and main challenges plus a lot of streed cred and will part of that compeition in France. So, he may not have been Top Chef but he certainly came out ahead. Yay!

    December 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Melissa

    I liked all the finalist but I was for Michael the whole way, he's a great chef and brought entertainment to the show. It is a TV show after all, thats why they kept Robin in so long, everyone kept tuning in to see when she would finally get the boot. Plus with the editing done by producers can we really trust the personalities displayed? To enjoyed Stefan but thought Michael was arrogant...There has never been a Top Chef that topped Stefans arrogance and thats why we loved him, so why not love Michael too? I would love the chance to eat at all 3 of the finalist (and Jens) restaurants.

    December 10, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Emma

    I really like Jennifer and wanted her to win, but I have to agree with Liz. "Jennifer was her own worst enemy in the kitchen... she was lucky she was not sent packing weeks earlier". Congrats to Michael. He deserved to win, however I do agree he was a bit of a Jerk. I really wanted Kevin to win. I think he is a great chef.
    I live in Brian's area and can't want to try his restaurant. I think he is a great chef as well.
    All in all I think all three of the final competitors were Top Chefs in there own right!

    December 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. annabel

    Hopefully they will have a Top Chef – "After the Contest" and give a substantial amount of money to the fan favourite.

    Kevin will win for sure.

    The brothers were both whining spolied brats and I for one would never part with my hard earned money to patronize either of their restaurants.

    I would love to have a meal prepared by Kevin and if given the opportunity – would spend whatever he charged!!

    December 10, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  20. yayayayaya

    To Donna Pennie: I'm sorry, but Padma is absolutely beautiful and she can wear lesser and lesser clothing all she wants. Her personality on the other hand... questionable.

    December 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Jason

    As a viewer, we can ONLY cheer for the personality- not the food. So, yes, by all accounts, the viewers seem to think Kevin should have won (several online & phone polls had Kevin winning 40-59% over the other 2). The judges stated very early on that they wanted to see "brother vs brother", and it seemed like every elimination was a step towards making that happen, intentionally. While Michael's food may have tasted better, his personality makes his win less enjoyable for the viewer- which is the point of this story: to get a viewers perspective. When you have someone that says "I want to win because Ive been dreaming of this my entire life", a win for them is more satisfying than the guy that says "all of these chefs are horrible, I make their food on my day off, they cook basic food because they aren't skilled enough to keep up". As a viewer, I was cheering for anyone that wasn't Michael, as he did not deserve to win from a viewers perspective.

    December 10, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  22. swtctwshan

    Top Chef is about who cooks the best food – NOT who is the nicest person. I think a lot of us would have liked to see Kevin win, because he was both a fantastic chef and a really likable guy. However, Michael consistently turned out creative and amazing food AND cooked a better overall meal during the finale than both Brian or Kevin. So he deserved the win. Congratulations, Michael!

    December 10, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |

    Boy it sounds like all of you were there to try their food....

    December 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Liz

    Jennifer was her own worst enemy in the kitchen........she was lucky she was not sent packing weeks earlier.

    December 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Matt

    I couldn't agree more, Shannon. It was pretty obvious to viewers that they milked the brother vs. brother story line at the expense of the other cheftestants. The brothers were great chefs, but others, like Jen, deserved a chance. It’s really sad.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  26. BuffyOK

    Michael was always the favorite of the judges and he was a total jerk too! Creatively Bryan was the better choice.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Lou

    Shannon – How can you say that when you didnt eat the food? Its a cooking competition, not a popularity contest.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Emily

    Shannon, i totally agree. I was so bummed that they took Kevin out first. I feel like the brothers did nothing but cause chaos the entire season. Dont get me wrong, i watch reality television because i love the drama– but this went overboard for me. Kevin should have won. Hands down.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  29. G005

    I agree that Michael is arrogant, but I think he does deserve the title of Top Chef. He was pretty consistent with the quality and complexity of his food and he proved it time and time again with the quick fire challenges. I didn't like Hung either from the previous season, but I have to admit that his food and techniques werre pretty impressive as well. At the end of the day, it's still the food that matters and not who's cooking it.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  30. jgamma

    What does being arrogant have to do with it? He was very inventive, his food looked the best and apparently tasted the best. Yes, if it was a "nice guy" compentition Kevin would probably have won. We the viewers pick our favorites based on personality, but we can't actually taste the food.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Jason

    It's hard as a viewer to know if Michael deserved the win, because we do not get to taste the dishes they are putting out. However, it is hard to watch someone win that is such an arrogant jerk. He never had a positive thing to say about anyone other than his brother, and even those compliments were backhanded 90% of the time. I had hoped it would be Kevin, so that the winner is someone the viewers like. Even though Bryan was also a bit of a jerk (nowhere near as big an ego as Michael), even him winning would have been more satisfying to the viewer. Oh well, maybe next season we'll have a winner that isn't so full of himself. While he's said all season long that his only real competition was himself, I think he will be his own demise in the end. I do not see big things happening for Michael, as his smug, undeserved arrogance will come back to bite him as he attempts to manage his career.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Ericka Smith

    Top Chef is one of my favorite shows. However, I have always been frustrated with the chefs that win. I think this season, Bryan should have won. Michael is a very talented chef but I felt that he was just to much of a jerk to deserve top honors. His brother performed with class. But just my opinion!

    December 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  33. tricia

    I agree with Shannon that Jennifer should have been in the final 3. she was a strong competitor. I will not stop watching the show because I am a people watcher and get a kick out of what people say and how they act. I wouldn't want to watch another show with siblings together again because it does seem like it is all set up for ratings. I have been watching Top Chef since season 1 and I have never picked the winner but have always agreed with who did win until now.
    Keep the shows coming, you have a fan here.

    December 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Donna Pennine

    I pretty much agree with Shannon this season was real LAME-O!!
    No colorful characters like last season’s Fabio and Stefan now that was fun to watch. This whole group BORING and arrogant, Michael annoying. One more thing Padma with cleavage enough already!!! Cover up!!

    December 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  35. ginas

    yeah, michael acted like a jerk throughout the show..I'm sure he can cook, but he still acts like he flunked kindergarten. I'd be embarassed to be his mom!

    December 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Lynn

    I agree that Michael is arrogant, condescending, and egotistic. However, he is a good chef when comes to the preparation, handling, and conduct of the food. I would have rather seen Kevin win, but it was not his day. I do think the brothers were heavily favored in terms of the drama they would provide. However, unlike So You Think You Can Dance – which went really wrong in votes off last night – Top Chef is about skill. It isn't a personality contest. Sadly, on SYTYCD it's cheapened by the viewer votes. Ratings bring out the ugly in Television programming. It really is a shame.

    December 10, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Shannon

    I'm pretty much done watching Top Chef. Michael was an arrogant, condescending piece of crap that had no business winning this show. In fact, HE should have been the one sent home last week instead of Jennifer. But in the end I think the judges were loooking for any reason they could to send Jennifer home and put Bryan and Michael in the finale together, so as to create more drama... This used to be a credible reality show, but now they have de-evolved into attention-getting ploys. How sad!

    December 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |

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