Top Chef Las Vegas: huh?

Last night was the finale of the finale of “Top Chef Las Vegas” on Bravo, and the three remaining chefs–Kevin, Michael and Bryan–had a lot of creative leeway this time around. The final challenge of the season would be to make a 3-course meal at Cyrus Restaurant in Napa Valley. The first course would be using specific ingredients in a box–and all three chefs had the same items. The second course was anything they wanted to make based on what was on hand, and the third was a dessert, also using what was on hand in the kitchen.

But first the other 14 contestants from this season were brought back, and each finalist would draw two knives to find out who their sous chefs would be. Kevin drew Preeti and Ash; Bryan picked Jen and Ashley (Ben Folds); and Michael drew Jesse and Eli. Then as they were working on their ideas back in their suite, the chefs had a surprise visit–from their moms. After hanging with them and getting pep talks, the chefs made their way to Cyrus, where they were greeted by head judge Tom Colicchio. Tom informed them that they would be making one additional dish to start out–a dish inspired by their moms or something that brought to mind their childhood memories.

Here is what they each decided to make, keeping in mind I did not write these dishes down word for word, and most of them were much more complex than this. Oh, and in the box was some sort of fish, crab, and mushrooms.

Bryan–Tuna casserole inspired sardines with bread crumbs; fish cooked sous vide style; venison with vegetables; and a cheesecake made with sheep’s milk.

Michael-Broccoli “re-invented;” fish poached in butter; fennel scented squab; and a chocolate coulant with caramel.

Kevin–Chicken and “fixins;” fish cooked in duck fat; pork belly with vegetables; and roasted banana with chocolate and bacon.

The judges had good things and bad things to say about each dish, so it was near impossible to get a read on who they might choose as the winner. They had each chef state his case as to why they should be chosen as Top Chef.

Now, all along, Kevin has appeared to be the frontrunner. He makes simple Southern-inspired food but with bold flavors and just enough creativity. The brothers also won a bunch of challenges and are phenomenal cooks, but I’m pretty sure that besides anyone named Voltaggio, most of America was pulling for Kevin.

After hearing all of the judge’s remarks, it was clear that Kevin might not win. He did not have his best showing, and he picked a bad time for that. Judge Toby Young was trying hard to stick up for Kevin, though–as the other three talked about a rubbery mushroom, Toby said something like “well, we didn’t have to eat the mushroom.” Go Toby!

So finally, the three of them were standing in front of the judges. This was it. Host and judge Padma Lakshmi told Kevin that he was not Top Chef. Damn! I’m sorry, but if they based this on his body of work through the season, dude was robbed. And it’s not like they all hated what he made last night.

So it was down to the brothers Voltaggio. Based on the comments last night, Mrs. Mike and I were fully expecting Bryan to be the winner. In fact, I’m pretty sure they had something negative to say about every one of Michael’s dishes. But as the air hung heavy and we all were anticipating Bryan’s name to be called…Padma uttered this…..”Michael, you are Top Chef.”

Um, say what? So this cocky dude who sometimes is creative to a fault beat out his much less cocky brother and another guy who could do more with less maybe better than anyone the show has ever seen? Okay…..I don’t agree with it, but okay.

Congrats Michael, and congrats to Kevin and Bryan as well for battling and making it that far. Next time I’m in Atlanta, I’m going to find Kevin’s restaurant.

I’m curious what you all think….did you agree with the judges? Are you slightly bitter as I am?

Let me know, and thanks for reading this season!

  

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