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Michael Voltaggio: The Other White Meat

The winner of the Air Force challenge talks about his partner and having Jennifer C. as chef. First, what are you thinking of the competition up to this point? Who do you think are your biggest threats?
I think the competition is proving to be about cooking. My biggest threat is always myself. I don't worry too much about what others are doing, I try to focus more on my own execution.

How to Watch

Watch Top Chef Season 21 Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock. How much is your brother’s success in this competition factoring into your state of mind/your performance?
Bryan is a talent to take seriously. I'm happy to see him succeed. Again, my focus in not so much on his success or anyone else's, it's on the center of my plates. Onto the Quickfire: You had to create an “out of this world” potato dish for Mark Peel. What was the inspiration for your dish? Do you generally like working with potatoes?
My inspiration was a riff on a tuna sandwich with potato. I confit both the fish and the spud and paired them with a vanilla-scented mayonnaise. Jennifer wins the Quickire and the team pairs/Jenn as leader idea is formed. How did you feel about this scenario?
We strategically made her the chef based on immunity. She didn't need to cook anything because she wasn't up for elimination. We thought maybe she could act as a line of communication among the team and just be an extra set of hands where needed. At the end of the day, she wasn't about to dictate or control any aspect of my cooking. You and your brother both said your sister would like this challenge. How do you think she'll react when she sees it?
She will be surprised. She was in The United States Air Force and we hope to make Staci as proud of us for this as we were of her for serving our country. Tom LOVED your idea to cook the bacon as pork belly. What gave you this idea? Have you done this before?
Braised bacon ... enough said. Were you worried at all that this wouldn’t work?
Never a doubt — how could this not work? Braised pork belly is a trend in fine restaurants today and is usually a crowd pleaser. Your partner, Mike, was pretty pissed about being on the top and then the bottom. What was your reaction to it?
Mike and I were a team, and if I was on top for the pork then I should have been on bottom for the salad. He added that dish simply to enhance the experience for the airmen. I think most of us tried to forget about the competition for a day and just give back a little. At any point, did you say/think to say to Mike that the salad didn’t work? Or were you too busy focusing on the pork?
Never crossed my mind. Mike is a great chef who I respect, and his food usually speaks of that. What did you think of the other chefs’ dishes?
Bread pudding was a hit! We’ve had a little fun on the site, saying you look like Tony Hawk (heard your liked our game :) ... Have you gotten that a lot before?
Tony Hawk? My first skateboard was a Tony Hawk model. He achieved excellence in his craft, and I take it as a compliment.

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