Frederick brothers in 'Top Chef' finale

Taste

Bryan, Michael Voltaggio survive underdone lamb, stray bone in salmon

November 25, 2009|By Laura Vozzella | laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

Two brothers from Frederick overcame underdone lamb and an errant salmon bone to advance to the "Top Chef" finals.

Bryan and Michael Voltaggio are among four chefs still in the running as Bravo's reality cooking show moves from Las Vegas to California's Napa Valley on Dec. 2.

"I just jumped up and said, 'Yes! The brothers are in,' " said Lucinda Weimer of Frederick, one of many hometown fans rooting for the Voltaggios.

The competition began with 17 chefs, and each week one has been told to pack his or her knives and go home.

One of the four finalists will be eliminated Dec. 2. A week later, on Dec. 9, the remaining three will wage one last culinary battle. The winner will be crowned that night.

The "Top Chef" wins a spread in Food & Wine magazine plus $200,000 in cash and cooking merchandise. Last week, the Voltaggios survived a challenge modeled on the culinary Olympics known as Bocuse d'Or. One of the judges was celebrity chef Thomas Keller, whose renown seemed to unnerve the competitors, resulting in flawed performances all around.

Michael Voltaggio's cucumber tartare was deemed "not so inspired," his cauliflower and caviar out of place with his Mediterranean theme; a bone that turned up in one serving of his salmon would have earned him the boot from the real Bocuse. Bryan's lamb was too rare.

But the Voltaggios survived, and that was enough to please fans in Frederick.

"I thought they did fabulous," said Weimer, who coordinated Bryan's high school work-study program in the kitchen of Frederick's Holiday Inn. "My gut feeling is, I bet it goes down to the two brothers. Of course, I'm hoping for Bryan because he's still here in Frederick."

The brothers grew up in town, where Bryan is chef and co-owner of the restaurant Volt. Michael is chef at The Dining Room at the Langham in Pasadena, Calif.

The other finalists are Jennifer Carroll of Philadelphia's Ritz-Carlton and Kevin Gillespie of Atlanta's Woodfire Grill.

On TV
The two-part "Top Chef" finale airs at 10 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 on Bravo.

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