Burning Questions

Bryan Voltaggio doesn't necessarily think the final elimination truly proves who is the best overall chef.

Dec 9, 20090

Bravotv.com: Going into this final challenge, what were your assumptions about what the challenge or "twists" would be? How did you prepare for them?
I have seen in the past that Tom typically added an “extra course” to the menu. That is the one that stuck in my head the most. What will that course be and how will it be presented?

Bravotv.com: What went through your mind when you saw what the mystery box was?
At first I was concerned about the choice of ingredients, matsutake, bass, squash,  meyer lemon, and anise hyssop. Then it naturally occurred to me that these ingredients can be accents to the dish as well; they just have to be included, for example the meyer lemon. I felt much more comfortable after digesting the challenge.

Bravotv.com: What was your immediate reaction when your mom came out?
When my mother came into our room it was a total shock, because at first Kevin hugged someone I had never seen before. At first I was confused, seconds before my mother walked in. Then I knew something was up. However I was very excited to see my mother.

Bravotv.com: Who did you want/not want as your sous-chefs? What was your reaction when you drew knives?
There wasn’t anyone who I didn’t think I could work with. If I had what I considered a weaker chef, then I would only have them working on very simple aspects of the dishes. If I had different sous, then I may have changed my food as well.

I believe that you are as good as those around you. I had a very strong team, I felt that I could rely on them and delegate tasks to them without too much guidance. I was very happy with my knife pull.

Bravotv.com: What was the inspiration for each dish?
The inspiration for the first course came from my mothers ability to feed three children at the table each night while keeping up with a fulltime job, sports, and the day to day. She made a few one pot wonders like her tuna noodle.

The mystery box inspired the second course. I literally take ingredients when given to me and just reach into my repertoire for the best way to present them. This occurs at my restaurant regularly, a farmer or forager drops off a crop or a find and then the menus get pulled and new dishes are created. That is what can be so much fun about being a chef.

Bravotv.com: Did Padma's pregnancy affect your menu at all?
No, I did not think too much into it. I think Michael asked a question to her when we first arrived in Napa about what she would and would not eat. I stuck to the obvious of course or should I say stayed away, just to be sure she tasted all of my food.

 

12 comments
Kindred spirit
Kindred spirit

Bryan, I am such a fan of yours and was so sad at the finale when Michael won. You were truly wonderful in how you handled that and the support that you showed Michael. I know that Michael was influenced by you in pursuing cooking as a career, but just wish that he would have tried to emulate more of your character traits than just being a great chef. While, he may have succeeded as a chef, he doesn't have any of your grace, quiet power, maturity, and kindness. Even in the finale, when he said he just wanted to beat you, I was like come on, give me a break, it felt like he learned nothing from the experience. All I can say is that while he may have won Top Chef (and I don't think that was the right call at all), he certainly didn't win our hearts, which you definitely did.

Emotivation
Emotivation

Bryan I hope you leave your experience with Top Chef with the same kind of zeal, passion, drive, commitment and integrity you had all season long. I honestly can say I have not seen such a stand up person (guy or girl) any season, who never had to talk down to anyone, who behaved professionally and maturely. You need no praise from another fan as to how great a chef you are, you know that from how far you came in the competition, and that on any given night you could throw down with Kevin & Michael and come out on top. Please give my warmest regards to Michael, congratulate him, and congratulations to you too, chef, you were fantastic.

MarcyO
MarcyO

Bryan you are truly are the total package and deserved to be rewarded as Top Chef!

You are humble, respectful and you make amazing food! This decision has made me rethink if I will be tuning in to watch Top Chef next year. I really just can't believe what the judges were thinking! Michael makes good food too, but he lacks the character qualities of a Top Chef, he has a lot of growing up to do! I hope he doesn't gloat in your face too much! Stay sweet and humble, if you ever have a show on Food Network I would totally watch it. I would not do the same for Michael until he showed that he cares about someone other than himself!

LA
LA

Bryan,

You are a classy guy as well as a great chef. I've made plans to head to Frederick and dine at Volt soon. I can't wait to taste your food! More importantly, I'm taking my own son and his best friend with me. Both of them love cooking - my son's friend wants to be a chef. I can't think of a better role model for them than you. Sorry you didn't win the competition but I think (hope, pray) the exposure this program got you will bring you the attention you deserve, and that great things will follow for you....

Voltaggio fan
Voltaggio fan

Brian, I think you're a great chef and definately a winner in my book!

eviltimes
eviltimes

Bryan, you are the top chef! Me and mine will be dining at Volt again and will continue to spread the gospel of your fabulous food!

FanKim
FanKim

You are a class act. Best wishes for continued future success.

Italian girl
Italian girl

My whole family felt you deserved to win Top Chef Bryan, your food was always executed well and you are very versatile and cool under pressure.. Too bad we live in Chicago-but we would love to one day try your restaurant in Maryland. We wish you and your family the best!!!

JasmineB
JasmineB

This was like watching Venus and Serena match. Best season ever! Michael had a better night than you, but you are the top chef in my book. Your professionalism and attitude speak for you quite loudly! I'm happy for Michael, but at the same time, just like the aforementioned tennis match, I'm sad that you didn't take the title. Bravo anyway, for making this season the best in history.

bmello
bmello

Bryan, congratulations on making it to the final three, then two. Ultimately I thought that you were the top chef. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Redbud9
Redbud9

Love you Bryan!! I've rooted for you all season long! You presented yourself in a mature, responsible and professional manner all season.

In a year or two no one will remember who won TC in 2009....but character last a lifetime. I don't care who won....YOU ARE TOP CHEF in my book! I wish you the greatest successes.

Voltaggio Fanatic!
Voltaggio Fanatic!

Brian, I have been most impressed by your maturity, your grace and your professionalism throughout the entire competition. I was disappointed that you did not win, and couldn't help but wonder if you held back purposely to push your brother forward, but then, that would be contradictory to what I've observed of your character, wouldn't it? Michael's victory is still your victory, because you have set the gold standard by which he will always try to continue to reach, I imagine. So, kudos to you for your accomplishments, and for raising the bar for everyone else who will come up after you next season. Congratulations to you, and I look forward to the privilege of partaking one of your creations at your restaurant if I'm every in Maryland.