Burning Questions

The challenge winner explains why he wanted people to know he could cook veggies, and what he thought of Michael's comment about his food.

Nov 10, 20090

Bravotv.com: First the Quickfire, why did you decide to go with the meatballs for the Sopranos?
I wanted to make something that embodied the spirit of Italian American frugality. I think that a well-made meatball is both delicious and appropriate for a challenge that asked you to create a meal that was inspired by T.V. dinners.

Bravotv.com: So, how excited was your grandmother that you will have a Schwan’s meal?
I'm not sure if she even knows about it or not. I know that she watches the show, but I haven't had a chance to talk to her since the episode.

Bravotv.com: Onto the veggie challenge: how important was it to you to win this one?
I wanted to win this challenge very much for multiple reasons. As someone who has eaten a vegetarian diet on many occasions I wanted to make substantial food, full of flavor, that didn't make the diner long to find a piece of meat to make the meal complete. I know how challenging it can be to find vegetarian food that doesn't disappoint in some way or another. I also wanted to do away with the stigma that I somehow only know how to make meat-heavy foods. It's simply not true.

Bravotv.com: What was the inspiration behind your dish?
I find that smoky flavors along with the texture of mushrooms can often trick the mind into embracing the dish as if it was a meat laden plate of food. I personally don't find fake or synthesized meat substitutes very interesting and instead would prefer to achieve the result through other means.

Bravotv.com: Were you surprised how much trouble people had with portion control/flavor?
I think that oftentimes people can find it challenging to make flavorful and filling vegetarian cuisine. In our upbringing as chefs, we rarely find ourselves facing the restrictions to what we can use to make a dish delicious, and thus many chefs have not developed that skill set. I'm not sure that I would have the experience either had I not forced myself to learn how to satisfy myself during Lent.

Bravotv.com: Did you try any of the other dishes? If so, what’d you think?
I didn't have the chance to try anyone else's dish. I went last.

27 comments
Susan in IL
Susan in IL

Kevin, I hope you win Top Chef. You have class and humility that many chefs lack. My favourite episode is "Vivre Las Vegas" and the look on your face when Tom told you that you were eating with Joel Roubochon (sp). Priceless!

PeachPie
PeachPie

Kevin, I have no idea if you'll even read the comments, but I'll post this anyway.

This will sound extremely cliche, but it's a statement I've seldom made in all the years I've been watching TC: Win or loose, you ARE a Top Chef.

How I wished Atlanta was a short drive away!

Congratulations of the success you've had so far and in the future.

Earl Thorien (From Canada)
Earl Thorien (From Canada)

Kevin, it is truly refreshing to see a person take responsibility for both thier successes and more importantly their failures. As a cook/chef of over 25 years, it is rare (no pun intended) to see a young chef with as much talent and grace as yourself. Some of the disparaging comments from your competitors were both juvenile and offensive.

You do have a fan base within the circles of Canadian cuisine and we wish you all the best.

from CA
from CA

What can I say, I just love Kevin! He is so professional, confident in his vision, focused on the execution, and most of all, he seems to sincerely cares about people. When he wins a challenge he smiles like a truly happy 5-year-old... you just want to hug him! Authentic, kind and respectful to all, Kevin, you deserve to be this season's top chef!

Blake (the vegetarian)
Blake (the vegetarian)

Kevin, as a vegetarian/foodie wannabe/top chef enthusiast, I would like to thank you for your positive attitude about the challenge. I don't get why the idea of a vegetarian diet is so offensive to chefs, when most vegetarians aren't offended by meat based diets. Your dish looked delicious and the only dish that looked even half way filling. If I'm ever in Georgia, I'd love to stop by your restaurant and hopefully you can make me a vegetarian creation. Rooting for you until the end!

MyNameisMike
MyNameisMike

So, the next spin off is where Kevin and Carla teach incoming contestants how to act like adults, yeah?

Blonde Gator
Blonde Gator

Kevin, without a doubt, you are the very best of the best (and this year's competition is heads and shoulders above prior seasons). I love your approach of uncomplicated but perfect...the ingredients, flavors, and thought you put into your dishes is consistently amazing. Pigs and Pinot & Natalie Portman's vegetarian dinner scream to me that you absolutely understand the challenges.

I've decided to drive up to Atlanta to visit my cousin, since there are now two new reasons for to go there....your restaurant and the Aquarium. I'm looking forward to it.

Not Important
Not Important

Team Kevin!

As a vegetarian (previously vegan for many years), I can tell you that you hit the nail on the head with the comment about consistently being disappointed, even at top restaurants. At least now I have a general idea of why (that chefs aren't really taught with restrictions--perhaps that should be part of the training, since there are so many people with food restrictions, from allergies, health, ethics, and religion), but that still doesn't really excuse the dismissive, even derisive attitude that many chefs have toward veg food. You, on the other hand, embraced the idea, understood the challenge veg*ns face when dining out, remained respectful and cooked great food. I'm rooting for you to win the whole thing.

ViewerChuck
ViewerChuck

If Mike V is Top Chef's Picasso, then Kevin is Matisse.

Keep on eating!

Sooz
Sooz

Kevin, I applaud your consistent class. When you combine what appears to be top flight and intelligent talent with a basic civility and respect for others, it makes you not only a master, but a role model, as well. And it makes people cheer for you!

BTW, I only say you appear to be a top flight talent because I think it's a little presumptuous to judge food I've only seen on TV! Next time I'm in Atlanta, though, I'm eager to try to get into your restaurant.

TVKimmy
TVKimmy

Kevin,

You are a class act sir. I've been rooting for you since your first meal and your first talking head. You have a class, a wit, and warmth about you that just shines through. You are indeed a southern gentleman. If I had the opportunity to eat food from any chef this season, it would be you, hands down. Keep doing what you do and I wish you nothing but luck and light in life.

Irene
Irene

Kevin, as a Georgia resident, I was rooting for the three of you Atlanta chefs from the beginning. However, you have shined with your culinary skills as well as your tact and class. When you win a challenge, you manage to be appreciative, seem surprised, and yet never gloat. Atlanta has a bundle of great chefs, but, we thank you for highlighting this to the rest of the country. You also personify all apsects of Southern hospitality.

MylaBaby
MylaBaby

Kevin,

You could've thrown Michael V under the bus, but instead took the high road - good for you. I still think Michael is a talented chef, but he needs to learn how to edit his emotions and think before speaking. Surprisingly, Kevin is more mature and he is only 26 years old - 4 years younger than Michael.

Like another poster, I am rooting for Bryan to win, but if Kevin does, its all good.

Robin made me cry last night. Good luck to her.

MM
MM

Kevin, way to go!!! Your presence makes it so that the competition this season isn't even remotely fair! The level of talent is higher than it's been in the previous 5 seasons, yet you're still THE standout, imho.

During any other season the formidable talents of a Jennifer Carroll or a Voltaggio would have been insurmountable (I believe any one of them would have won any season but this one). I'm blown away to see your artistry and profoundly thoughtful approach to each dish.

My family's rooting for you, every episode. Blessings!

Mackie
Mackie

I just wanted to say the two challenges I watch were when they pulled the slot machine and when they had the casino based dish. I think your food looks great. I think you should have won with the steak breakfast. It looked perfect. It made me want some of it, so I cooked. Anyway the challenger that won that was I think eggs with sour kraut. The judges may have been hung over. Love the way you cook!

Mackie
Mackie

I just wanted to say the two challenges I watch were when they pulled the slot machine and when they had the casino based dish. I think your food looks great. I think you should have won with the steak breakfast. It looked perfect. It made me want some of it, so I cooked. Anyway the challenger that won that was I think eggs with sour kraut. The judges may have been hung over. Love the way you cook!

Addie
Addie

Kevin constantly returns to his roots. Like a writer who writes about what he knows, Kevin cooks what he knows. He has a no-nonsense attitude about food. And he certainly has class. He lets his cooking do his talking for him. Not his mouth. Something the other cheftestants could take a lesson on.

Millie In Miami
Millie In Miami

Kevin, you are by far the best chef and the best competitor in this years show. You put your food were you mouth is, and that my friend, is what a great chef does!

I hope to see you win this years Top Chef! And BTW, thank God that Robin is gone!!!!!! About time.....

NurseJackie
NurseJackie

Hey Kevin - I have pulled for you since the beginning and I'm looking forward to you winning everything. You've never had to be negative to make yourself stand apart from the others - you let your food do that, and that's what "Top Chef" is all about.

I was able to try the Sicilian Meatball and Polenta dish from Schwan's, and it was beyond wonderful. We'll be ordering it again this week - the meal just terrific. I must say, what a unique way to finally sample a cheftestant's dish! Kudos to the collaboration between Bravo and Schwan's!

Good luck, Kevin, now and in the future.

Susan Thomason
Susan Thomason

Kevin, you are my fav!! The class that you show speaks of your "southern" upbrining. Michael could learn a thing or two from you. I think Michael is a great chef, but being a jerk can hinder you as much as cooking a bad meal.

KatieB
KatieB

Kevin, I love your approach toward food and I'd love to be able to eat your food some day. If ever I'm in Atlanta...

Bravo, I'm sick of you egging on the Robin stuff. I'm not as gracious as Kevin, so shut up.

mmc
mmc

Hi Kevin.Your vegetarian dish looked great.I wish you well as you are a great chef and a nice guy.I hope Michael did regret his comment.That was so unnecessary.

BGirl
BGirl

Hello Kevin,\

Your responses here confirm what a gentleman you are. I enjoy your intellectual approach to cooking and interacting with the other chefs in the game. The appearance of your dish was not appealing to me. However, I didn't get a chance to taste it. Those that did, claimed it to be most flavorful! Good for you! Good for the viewers who get to watch someone with grit, confidence and integrity cook so well.

KarenKit
KarenKit

Kevin...you're a class act, and I'm hoping you'll end up the new Top Chef. Thanks for keeping your opinions of others in check..I think it is disgraceful the way many of the contestants have been so mean to Robin. I agree she doesn't seem to have the same knowledge regarding food as the others, but she's made it this far for a reason, and it really shows low class for some of the contestants to be so rude to her...even if she does make them crazy. Best of luck to you...

Nate.
Nate.

Kevin - your graciousness continues to surprise me. I hope that this ultimately pays off for the viewer, especially as we continue to be exposed to the curiously negative behavior of the V brothers. You are an amazing chef bud...hope you carry this through all the way!!!!

Eric LeVine
Eric LeVine

"I have had the opportunity to talk to Michael about his comment and we have resolved any hard feelings as adults. I think that the stress of the show, and the overwhelming emotions that accompany winning and losing sometimes make people say or do things that they regret later. I feel confident that Michael and I share a mutual respect for each other and often agree to disagree on the proper way to approach cooking."

Kevin, I have to say that you are one of the smartest, most mature candidates to ever grace this show. Bravo on your maturity and your skills. It is a pleasure to see you succeed in so many of the challenges.

Mellie In MD
Mellie In MD

Still rootin' for Bryan Voltaggio, but Kevin's got CLASS! I think both chefs are extremely thoughtful about food, always asking "how" and "why" when creating their dishes.