Jamie Lauren

Jamie Lauren is loving Kevin's style, but is so over the Voltaggio brothers.

on Nov 19, 20090

Moving on... Jen, well done on the Quickfire. Nice to see you back in the game, and I'm happy that you were given the extra 30 minutes because apparently you needed it (these are your words not mine). Onto the elimination...

I have to say out of all the platters and all the commentary, Kevin really did present the most consistent looking plate. I am so surprised that almost all the chefs undercooked their proteins. It seemed that after all the time that was allotted for the challenge that none of them should have undercooked their meat. That being said, I was very impressed with the fact that they all put together beautiful platters under all the pressure they had on their shoulders: $30,000, cooking at the Bocuse d'Or, Thomas Keller.... Again, did I mention throwing up? I just can't believe none of them turned green. For me when it's all said and done, Bryan seemed to be the one chef who had the most technically impressive platter. However because of the lack of doneness on the lamb he shot himself in the foot. Same with Eli, who apparently had great flavors going on but also couldn't pull out a well-cooked piece of meat. Then you look at Kevin, who didn't even know how to sous vide, and ends up with perfect meat and the most complementary remarks and probably the win. Go figure, the guy who cooks "homestyle, day-off" food ends up killing it. My thoughts remain the same for the final four as they have for weeks: Kevin, the brothers V and Jen. Which means no more Eli. If that's how the dice roll at Judges' Table then I think Napa Valley is going to treat us to a very interesting finale. Will there be a resurgence of the great Keller himself? Perhaps a French Laundry Quickfire? Guess we just have to wait and see....

PS: Keep the comments coming. I'll try and answer them as the season wraps up. And follow me on Twitter (@chefjamielauren), and if you are ever in SF, come visit me at Absinthe. I may even come out and say hello, but don't talk about scallops, or Stefan, please.

68 comments
Carolina Viewer
Carolina Viewer

Jamie, so glad you called out the brothers V. It's about time someone did. Bryan is not so bad, but Michael is full of himself and I am praying like crazy that Kevin is the next Top Chef. It has amazed me this season that the same 4 people who have won every elimination challenge are now in the final four. Well, I'm not surprised. After about week 3 or 4, I finally figured it out that the same people would be winning over and over again and they did. One could almost say it was rigged from the beginning because if it wasn't, then why did no else but the same 4 people win a quickfire or elimination challenge. I'd love to see this question come up at the reunion show if they have one. Anyway, keep the comments coming,girl! You're right on the money. Michael V. needs to take a pill that will take his attitude down a notch or two.

Mighty Mouse
Mighty Mouse

Jamie,

I am confused...first when it comes to the ballantine, do you mean that it has to be a meat inside a meat inside a meat? I thought it could be any protein inside a protein inside a protein.

I feel the same way a lot of other commenters this season do: there is way too much focus on the "drama" and not enough on the food! Where were the close-ups of the mirrored platters, a comment on why those are used, more substance on the chefs' hands preparing the food??? Then sadly your column seemed to do that too...then I also still do not understand how I can chat with you as you referred to...

Also surely you have noticed Bryan V. smiles during interviews, chuckles, is passionate about his family, and cuisine, is a gentleman and a leader? I'm afraid the younger and more immature Michael V. is the naughty boy.

I think a lot of you Chef and I would love to chat with you! Can't wait to hear what you think of the finale part one. I haven't seen it yet...argh...to top off this confusion, I thought your blog was going to be about it!!!!!!! Duh! I am already having Season 6 withdrawal and wondering about Season 7...

Take care Chef Jamie!

seattle viewer
seattle viewer

The Voltaggio brothers aren't twins, right?! When are their birthdays? (Not just years, but birth dates?)

MatthewAbel
MatthewAbel

Kevin is just terrific. Good attitude, good looking food. Everytime Michael busts out a "I could cook like Kevin on my day off" nonsense, I find myself asking him "Why don't you then?" The guy can obviously cook amazingly well, but not every single dish has to be foam-city on an anti-griddle.

Some of the best dishes from last season were simple - Fabio's chicken and Carla's peas anyone? Simple food does not equal bad food. Sometimes and amazing appetizer is as simple as sliced apples and cheese. It's knowing when to serve this stuff that makes a top chef.

gio@alec-musser.com
gio@alec-musser.com

"I can only imagine dinnertime conversation at the Voltaggio house..."

Do you actually think that we are seeing their real personalities?

feednotfatten
feednotfatten

As much as I'd like to deny Michael V.'s cooking abilities, I think he is a rather brilliant talent. I don't like his behavior, or attitude, or his need to disparage others. Some genuine humility would elevate him to greatness, and I hope he can become happier and more effective as a chef by learning that.

Jason Williams
Jason Williams

Keven cooks the food he would like to eat.

Michael cooks the food he would like to show off.

Rumpley
Rumpley

WORD sistah! Watching Season 6's chefs is like watching paint dry personality wise.

I can not for the life of me figure out how they managed to find such a huge group of ultimately boring non-personalities to make up the show this season. If I wasn't so into food, I would have turned it off ages ago as it certainly isn't the one liner zingers or quick wit of previous chefs keeping me interested.

The V brothers - dull, dull, dull with a capital D. It's boring to watch them bicker and bicker - like being trapped at a family dinner gone south. Jennifer speaks like she needs an upper...slow, methodical, did I mention half asleep? I guess Kevin by default is interesting but that's a pretty low bar that has been set.

Seriously if it's like this next season, I'm done unless they can find some personalities as cool as the food. Where is the next Fabio to be found?

Anon
Anon

I don't agree with your ccmments about the V. brothers. They are really high quality chefs. I think Michael is an extremely good chef. The one thing I like about this show is that it seems mostly about the food and less about personalities. I don't think Kevin should have won this challenge because his food is too simple. Bryan should have won. I agree Kevin's food is good but I don't think of him as the Top Chef.

JessB
JessB

Amen, Jamie! Michael was driving me nuts in this episode and it's not the first time. The attitude isn't necessary! I think Bryan's a bit serious at times, but he seems much nicer. I think it showed a lot of character when he helped Kevin with the temperature he needed to cook the meat!

o-town girl
o-town girl

I am loving this season and I love all four finalists..each with their quirks and it is hard for me to chose. But I must say, that this is such an excellent season, the less-great weeded themselves out and now the real fun begins...it is going to rock and roll here on out

Luce
Luce

Jamie, you are my favorite blogger. I agree with you except about Bryan but I'm not even a cook and don't know what it's like working for or with chefs with different personalities. Bryan became my favorite contestant as the show progressed because he comes across as being kind and his brother became my least fav each time he opened his mouth and showed he's never tasted humble pie. When it comes to who is the best chef, I defer to your opinion since I have no clue. If it was a contest for who I'd like to have over for dinner, Bryan would make my list.

Keep up the blogs. You write with a sense of humor and I enjoy having a chuckle with my reading.

ColinJ
ColinJ

Jamie, you really are the star blogger around these parts. Great post.

The final 4 being the best chefs was pretty obvious from very early on in the season. Only a massive implosion from any one of of them (which Jen threatened to do at one stage) would have changed who cooked in the finale. It does seem to be a little that way in most seasons tho doesn't it?

I think Jen, after a much needed break, is the one to watch here. Remember just how superior she was in the early episodes. I actually think she will win it easily.

kathy from austin
kathy from austin

You're being waaay too hard on Bryan. Agree with your assessment of Michael V., Jen and my favorite, Kevin. But Bryan V. is no villian.

la viewer
la viewer

I think you of all people know the type of manipulation editing can do. It can transform people literally from day to night...trust me- The V brothers know how to have fun...they're passionate about what they do. It just sometimes gets perceived in different ways- like arrogance. In this industry- we have a little of all those personalities, so maybe you can consider editing your comments to reflect a more accurate illustration of what it takes to be in this industry.

StephD
StephD

Hi Jamie, I agree with COMPLETLY with your post. I too am over the brothers.

When I look at the way Michael V. cooks compared to the was Kevin cooks, I noticed one glaring difference. Kevin cooks for the eater, Michael cooks for himself.

When I sit down to eat, that's what I want to do – EAT. It's as if Micheal cooks so that he can be given a round of applause upon presentation, but Kevin cooks so that you want to unzip your pants and make room for dessert.

My two cents...

Mrs Gub
Mrs Gub

Jamie, thanks for this post. I giggled at this post.

I am a Kevin fan and have been from the beginning. I am also a Bryan V fan because he seems to be a talented chef and a nice person. He's confident and occasionally comes across as arrogant, but I am a fan.

And as much as Michael V gets on my nerves, I keep reminding myself that there is editing that goes on to 'create' personalities. Do I think he's arrogant? Yes. Does he get on my last nerve? Yes. Do I want to smack him for his comments about Kevin's cooking? Yes. But then I personally take it as a sign of his seeing Kevin as a viable competitor and threat for the title.

My dream final pair would be Kevin and Bryan V with Kevin taking the title.

Claire Bear
Claire Bear

Hopefully Jamie is right. We've been pulling for Kevin since the first episode. Send Michael home now!!! He should be scared of Kevin because of the last episode. No one trashes Kevin m'boy on his radical food. Kick his butt Kevin!! By the way, I'm 11 and love Top Chef!

Pennsylvania Viewer
Pennsylvania Viewer

Hey Jamie! I love reading your inputs! I agree, I also so over the V brothers. At least Michael seems to be a little nice. I am routing for Kevin. Even though Jenn is from Philadelphia, which is closest to me. I still love Kevins style and lack of stuck-upness.

Kaneary
Kaneary

Frankly I think all of the final four are fantastic chiefs. Jennifer hasn't been as consistent as the other three. I don't think Kevin gives enough variety. It's like he only cooks traditional southern food and very well. I don't think that's enough to be a Top Chief. Michael has a bit of an attitude, but it is far less than some of the nasty attitude's I've seen on previous episodes.

gigiandloveysmom
gigiandloveysmom

Jamie. Thanks.

I live in Atlanta and actually a few blocks away from Kevin's place (Woodfire Grill) I plan on eating there this weekend as I can't explain away why I haven't eaten there yet. BTW Blais place (flip) is a nice eat too.

As for the V brothers. I would like Bryan to cook for me any day, given I had the money and plane to fly him out. Michael is a bit too opinionated to cook for anyone. He would do best in his own place. Kevin and Jennifer would do great as I like what they create.

And as for Bryan helping Kevin out, as chefs you understand that it is important to work as a team. It was not as if Bryan COOKED for Kevin. He verbally discussed a cooking method and Kevin nailed it. Good for Bryan for sharing his knowledge with someone who shares his passion.

mike.
mike.

Though I'm still a fan of the Voltaggios (particularly Bryan, who I think will take the season), your imagined conversation between the two of the them actually had me LOL out loud ("LOLOL"?). Spot-effing-on. :D

Kenneth
Kenneth

Nice commentary on a great episode. I was especially impressed that Kevin was able to recognize a technique he had never tried was appropriate for his food goals and that he was able to master it with only informal verbal guidance from Bryan. I was struck by Kevin's initial belief he had "squandered" his chances of a win with a new technique and later discovering the new technique was instrumental in his victory. In the end, I was ultimately impressed that Kevin has remained true to his belief in his food and not changed his approach fundamentally, even for the faux Bocuse D'Or; it was good to hear Kevin say he was going to bet on his food flavors and not the presentation for the challenge.

Kevin winning the pseudo-Bocuse D'Or was nothing short of poetic justice.

Namanyonma
Namanyonma

Your chicken noodle soup comment just made me love you even more!

My father CONSTANTLY criticizes me and cannot understand because, while I love cooking, want to go to culinary school, love gourmet food, and insist on going to the nicest restaurant in our city for my birthday every year...If you step between me and my chicken noodle soup or spaghetti-os on a saturday...I will stab you with one of our fancy knives! So, I will not throw a knife at you! I shall stand proud by your side.

LynnNChicago
LynnNChicago

I dont think it is fair to lump Bryan and Michael together just because they are brothers, Bryan is a sincere, kind person based on what we've seen. Even Michael is not nearly as cocky as some of the past season chefs, Marcel, Stephen, etc. I think that Michael is getting picked on because he is the ONLY chef who is competitive and tells it like it is. Its a little weird that you don't watch the end of the show to see who is voted off, why do you do that? And can we truly belive that you do that?

Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan

'love your posts Jamie!

How come you never watch the episodes' endings?

RLB
RLB

I agree that Kevin is super-talented and Michael V is really cocky, but I do think he can be funny too. They haven't shown much of it, but the clips of him teasing Eli and considering him the little brother is cute. Bryan was in on it too, teasing with a straight face. And I don't think it's fair to lump Bryan in with the arrogance. He's the one who told Kevin how to sous-vide, with details about how to change it for roasting afterward and all that. It may very well have cost him the win, but to me that showed a lot of maturity and some good chef/leadership qualities.

PeachPie
PeachPie

Jamie, You probably get tired of hearing "great blog", but hell, great blog! LOL. It's been far too long since I've been to SF or even California (used to live in San Diego). Being in NY now, I sure miss it. I'd definitely make Absinthe a must. But, I'm sorry... I think I'd absolutely WANT scallops! Every time you made them they looked great! And I encourage anyone who hasn't done so to check out the restaurants web site. The menu looks fantastic! (And the cocktails!)

As for this episode, I missed it. I'll have to catch the rerun tomorrow.

You brought up a great point comparing the difference in cockiness. Mike I, Michael V and Stephan were/are all cocky. I think with Stephan, despite the cockiness, he tended to be more charming and funny. And that grin of his! With the other two I've mentioned, their cockiness tends to feel a little more mean-spirited, if that makes any sense.

As for Bryan... well, he may be hating himself for helping Kevin with the sous-vide (it is a competition and so much was at stake), but my guess is he'd probably hate himself equally if he'd been the ass*ole on national TV who didn't. It said volumes about his character. If I owned a restaurant, he's the kind of guy I'd want to hire.

Have a great week!

PeachPie
PeachPie

@ge "i don't know about you guys, including you jamie, but i think to be top chef, one has to know how to sous-vide. that separates the cooks from the chefs"

Perhaps what you meant to say is that what differentiates a "cook" from a "chef" is that a chef should have a more vast and varied knowledge of preparations and ingredients?

I'm going to go with that theory, because I can't believe anyone would think that knowing how to sous-vide is THE ONE thing that defines the difference between a cook and a chef. If that were the case, I'd learn how to sous-vide, call myself a chef and go apply at the French Laundry.

Angela M
Angela M

Wow, Jamie. I've enjoyed some of your posts this season but completely disagreed with this, and was sorry to see you bash Bryan V. for basically, being related to Michael? Come on.

And word to Satoriste and others--Bryan has become one of my favorite TC contestants because he seems like such a class act--quiet, respectful, talented, and a sly sense of humor. He's also a nice enough guy that he helped Kevin with the info he needed for sous vide--and lost $30,000 in the process. Doesn't exactly sound like a D-Bag to me. (I also agree with those who wished Bryan had won this EC as he does seem more suited to the Bocuse d'Or in both skill and temperament.)

Jamie, this latest post also buys into the storyline of the season that Kevin=simple, and V.Bros=complex, and I'm not sure it's fair to either side. Kevin's shown he can cook complex dishes and Bryan AND Michael have shown they can create with elegant simplicity when required. So I don't buy the arguments there. I just like seeing competitors as grown-up, smart and pleasant as Bryan, Kevin and Jen on my screen this season. Mike V. as the bratty upstart is fun because he's outnumbered (and probably on the verge of a comeuppance).

Nevertheless, this is a fantastic final four, and can't wait for the finale. I like Kev, but I'm totally rooting for Bryan V. or Jen to take it all.

Denver viewer
Denver viewer

Love your blog, but disagree about no one from your season could do this Bocuse d'Or challenge - your pal Stefan.

minnesota jamie fan
minnesota jamie fan

such a good blog! it still makes me mad that limp, salty celery was your downfall. i stopped watching after you got kicked off... anyway, i hope they ask you to blog again next season and good luck with the future!

ge
ge

i don't know about you guys, including you jamie, but i think to be top chef, one has to know how to sous-vide. that separates the cooks from the chefs. that's why michael v deserves to win.

Joan B
Joan B

Jamie, Love your blog and I am in awe at how spot on you are every week in calling the winners / losers or successes / failures. I always read Chef Tom's blog first and then yours - I seriously hope that Bravo will keep you on and available to us fans. Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving.

maureen leibovitz
maureen leibovitz

Come on Jamie, This group of chefs is working at a much higher level than in the past. I am sorry I disagree regarding Michael V. Think of all the stress all these chefs have been under. Michael, I believe takes his profession as a craft so he might be more serious and come off cocky but If I where going to eat at any of these restarants his would be the first I would head for. You tell me was it smart for Bryan to tell Kevin during a competion how to su vive. no. After fine We all know just how professional your group 5 was!! For any chef to win with a plate of kale well Nataile happened to like kale. I don't think any of the chefs did there best on that on. Maureen

TVKimmy
TVKimmy

"I like food to be clean, and to make sense, and I think that's why I find myself gravitating to Kevin this year. That guy makes some serious no-nonsense delicious-sounding food that always seems to impress. He's my kind of chef. Out of all the chefs I think his restaurant would be the one I would seek out if and when I had time to go out to eat (or time to go to Atlanta for that matter)."

So much WORD! This is EXACTLY how I feel about food. One of the things that annoys me so much about Mike V. is that he keeps forgetting that the food has to taste good, first and foremost. If I get a plate of food that looks beautiful and a bunch of wonderful techniques were used to cook it but it tastes bad or was undercooked, that plate is going back. Period.

food lover
food lover

I will agree with you that Kevin is an amazing cook, but I think you should cut Michael V. some slack. That guy is an excellent chef. I am a fan of Michaels and I am hoping he can pull it out in the end.

TofuJohn
TofuJohn

Great blog, as always.

I totally agree with you on Bryan. He has been presented as generally pissed off and fuming (up until recently).

I also reaffirm your choice to run Absinthe the way you want. I think some of us foodies may be under the impression that newer celebrity chefs have a large enough staff to cover for when they want to schmooze the high rollers, which may or may not be true.

Finally, I too am rooting for Kevin and JenC. On the forums, some refer to Kevin as Yukon Cornelius. Do you think they'll make a plushie doll of him?

Mike Z.
Mike Z.

I appreciate what you mean about the brothers V not letting up, but c'mon... Looking ahead to holiday travel I have the 72 hour rule for family and when is the last time *you* spent living with a family member for more than a few days, let alone competing against them?

CGnSC
CGnSC

John D ... did you forget? This is the same guy who gave up a full ride to MIT, to become a chef !!!!

TejasChris
TejasChris

Stefan is WAY better than Michael V. Thats a totally different kind of cocky...

Bette
Bette

Love the blog; completely agree. People who say Bryan has been "pleasant" this seson are only comparing him to his brother Michael. He's picky, sensitive and haughty. But he has generally done so quietly which, in the midst of Mike I., Eli and his bro comes across as being a gentleman. My picks: Kevin, Jen, Bryan in that order.

Alexandria, VA
Alexandria, VA

Your comments are spot on about this episode. They pretty much summed up my sentiments about the end of this season going into the final. I'm rooting for Kevin and Jennifer second. The V Brothers are very good technicians and not bad guys, but it's hard to see any heart and soul from them, other than primal survival skills. On that score, Bryan is the more civilized of the two. I'm being generous in considering that the stress is getting to Michael V. and that his comments about the other chefs, very ill-advised, are starting to make him look pretty bad in comparison to the magnaminous behavior of the other chefs toward each other.

mmc
mmc

Kevin does what a chef is supposed to do...cook good tasting food.It looks good it tastes good and he does it with a smile. He's a winner in my book. Bryan and Jen are gracious too.Michael has a problem, cocky, arrogent, and he thinks he cooks better than eveyone.Sorry michael you underwhelm me and your attitude will be your downfall!

kwmillie
kwmillie

Your blogs are great, keep it up!!! And I absolutely agree with what you say about Michael V. He thinks he is soooo special, and that he is so sophisticated, but I bet my chef hat that Kevin's food is hands down better than his any day! Is not about fancy, is about food tasting good Michael, maybe is time to for him to start cooking with flavor and integrity instead of running his mouth. Kevin is my favorite to win, and I hope he does!!!

dc
dc

I must disagree, if I was to hire a personal chef it would be Michael. He has shown by far the broadest range of cooking, all at high levels, from japanese, southern (braised pork belly), barfood (buffalo wings), MG. With Kevin I know I would shortly get sick of and fat from eating his southern or upscale diner food or comfort foods.

I have a feeling michael phoned in this last challenge. I can't say for sure, but I felt was really annoyed and frustrated by all the judges fawning over Kevin for his greasy and heavy southern "man" food. (Contrast with last week a judge calling Michael's cooking effeminate.)

Pa Viewer
Pa Viewer

I agree with you totally Jamie! I want Kevin to kick Michael V's ass! I liked him in the beginning but he is so cocky and arrogant.. Bryan isn't quite as bad but close.....but it was nice of Bryan to give Kevin advice, Michael I don't think would have done that.....

luv2eat
luv2eat

Jamie, loved your blog and agree about Michael V.. The sad thing is the way Keven cooks it the way most "non" chefs cook. This is the food most families would eat, not something that is too complicated to make. Bryan seems to realize this is a compition, but to win fairly you do need to help and share what you know. Really hope Keven wins, he seems to love food so much it would be a shame for him to lose.

former SF girl
former SF girl

Jamie, do you still do the lovely lavendar creme brulee at Absynthe? I haven't eaten there in years, before your time there, and that was a dessert that still sticks out to me! Love Hayes Valley!

Viewerned
Viewerned

Consider what Bryan's advice to Kevin cost him... $30 grand, and a Finalist slot for Bocuse America. When you saw Bryan sort of consider giving Kevin that information, you can bet that he was realizing in his mind what it might be costing him at this stage of the competition. Yet he did do it, and did it to the best of his ability so Kevin could execute his dish and win the challenge.

For me it's hard to slam Kevin, Bryan or Michael. They all seem like among the highest caliber chefs ever on Top Chef including Hung (who was a Finalist in the Bocuse last year himself), Blais, Marcel, Tre, Stefan and Harold