Trouble With Toast

Top Chef Las Vegas: Final Thoughts | December 11, 2009

First things first, congratulations to the winner of Top Chef, Michael Voltaggio.  He may not have been my favorite contestant, but he’s clearly a talented chef and a hard worker.  And I will definitely be interested in where his career goes from here.

The two-part finale pitted four excellent chefs against each other, and depending on the day, any one of them could have taken the top prize.  While that is GREAT for those of us who love the food first and foremost, we have to remember that Top Chef is, at its core, a reality television competition.  A finale with no conflict, no surprises, no gasp-worthy moments?  That’s not good (reality) TV.  So there may have been some creative editing and some production slight-of-hand that made the decision seem more dramatic, but it is clear from Tom’s blog at least that the judges truly felt that Michael presented the superior meal.

I really liked the final challenge.  The first course, where they had to create a dish inspired by their childhoods, really plugged into the fact that many of our strongest memories center around food and eating.  Not to mention, it allowed the audience to see the contestants’ mothers AND adorable family photos.  The “mystery box” course, despite being a BLATANT Chopped ripoff, really challenged the chefs, since the ingredients were difficult AND they all had to use the same ones.  I enjoyed that the third course was totally unrestricted, and I appreciated that dessert was on the table (so to speak) from the get-go, rather than being a cheap surprise twist.  It also avoided the inevitable chefly monologues regarding “Do I make a dessert, or don’t I?”  That internal dialogue gets old.

Overall, this season was really enjoyable; it will be really tough to top the caliber of chefs that competed this time around.  While you’re waiting for the next go-round to start, head on over to John Kessler’s blog and read an interview with Chef Kevin Gillespie, our hometown hero here in Atlanta.  He may not have taken home the title, but he’s in the running for “Fan Favorite” (tune into next week’s reunion show to see if he nabs the cash), and I know a lot of folks who can’t wait to dine at his restaurant and congratulate him on his fine showing.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  New recipes to come next week!

Edited to add: Here’s another interview with Kevin, this time from Creative Loafing.

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