Although the three dominant Top Chef Las Vegas cast members made it to the end–Kevin, Michael, and Bryan won 12 of 13 elimination challenges this season–only one could win, and it was a Voltaggio: the jerky one.
The brothers were the final two, and somehow, Bryan didn’t win $125,000 for his “stellar roster” of “well-constructed” dishes, but his brother Michale beat him with his “amazingly creative dishes,” as Tom Collichio said. In his final summation, Tom said that the other finalist, Kevin, just “stayed true to himself.” Ouch. He was eliminated first. Kevin seemed to be the fan favorite, based on the fact that I like him best and so did those people who texted in votes: he had 58 percent, while Michael’s attitude gave him just 13 percent. But Kevin and his beard choked, and as Toby Young said, “Kevin is on a fast track to becoming a culinary superstar, but he had a bad night.”
The three had to serve four dishes to the judges and guest judges (does Donatella Arpaia do anything except judge food competitions?), and because someone saw Food Network’s derivative reality competition Chopped (which has actually gotten a lot better recently), the producers basically did everything but have Ted Allen deliver a mystery basket, as their first course had to use a basket of mystery ingredients.
The finalists had help from sous chefs, and Kevin got, well, screwed by the random selection of his sous chefs. Preeti’s inability to help him during prep didn’t help, although Ash helped him recover the second day. Bryan got the best random selection with Ashley and Jennifer helping him, but obviously it didn’t matter in the end. The chefs’ mothers showed up to provide moral support, and then were used as an excuse to add a fourth course at the last minute (shocking!), and they also sat with the judges to eat the first course.
Andy Cohen will host (ugh!) a reunion next Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to see if baseball cap Voltaggio’s ego is uncontainable, or if the win and his public display of emotion have changed him.
Earlier this season, I asked if the Voltaggio brothers were ruining this season. Now that it’s over, I think the answer is yes: They have tremendous talent, but don’t come off well on TV at all, and as such the season seemed predictable and unbearable all at once. Add to that other contestants’ obnoxious behavior and weak abilities, never mind some gimmicky challenges, and you have a season that was okay, maybe good, but absolutely not great. Bring back Top Chef Masters.