Top Chef Exit Interview: And The Winner Is…
We say farewell to yet another season of Top Chef, and can I for one moment say I’m thankful for that — perhaps not the most exhilarating season in its history. Sadly, the most thrilling part of the final episode was not who won but who returned, oh Michael of the Voltaggio brothers. Small mercies!
For their final challenge, Angelo, Ed and Kevin were tasked with making the best four-course meal of their life — what else were they going to make, pea puree?
Ordinarily desserts are a contestant’s downfall, but your Singapore Sling was what people are going to remember. How did you make that?
Kevin: Absolutely. First of all I grew up in the bakery business and my wife’s a pastry chef; I’m not scared of desserts at all. This dessert was inspired by a dessert my wife makes, taking her coconut and lemongrass soup and setting it with gelatin. Using her poached pineapple and adding other tropical fruits to that, then making the Singapore Sling — the granita. Experimenting at home I used a lot of canned fruit juices but in Singapore I used all fresh fruit.
The final challenge on previous seasons has generally just been cook the best meal that you can, but this year Tom and Eric went out and chose the proteins for you guys. What was the reaction when you found that out?
My personal opinion was I loved it, because now you’re comparing apples to apples, comparing a duck dish to a duck dish. I thought it was great.
How were you feeling while you were cooking? Could you tell you made the best dishes?
I was very, very confident during the finale — very confident. I put my dishes out, I felt like they looked better than everyone else’s and more importantly I know I executed better. It was just a matter of do the judges really enjoy it, are the getting where I’m going with this, because it was very different from anything I had done before.
In his blog on Bravo, Tom Colicchio said yesterday that “now someone is sure to gripe that perhaps working with Voltaggio gave Kevin an advantage.” What would you say to people who subscribe to that theory?
I don’t care what they say, people are going to say whatever they want. The real advantage was having worked with Mike before. If I had worked with Mike or had I worked with Hung it would have been the same, I’ve worked with both of them. One is not any better, all three of them have won Top Chef and they’ve all won it in respectable seasons. People talk crap anyway, I don’t care.
Do you think Angelo’s freak flu affected his performance?
Yes, there is no denying that it definitely affected him. He was sick and wasn’t feeling well. But I don’t think Angelo came to Singapore hot. Ed was hot, Ed won the quickfire and the elimination. Angelo was out of the picture in my book.
What are white-trash tongues?
(Laughs) They’re large tongues that everyone cooks with — Mike Voltaggio came up with that — I didn’t even know what the hell it was. lot of chefs use medical instruments now in the kitchen, they’re very fine and good for detail, those are kind of new tongues and the others are white trash tongues. According to Mike.
You and your wife have just welcomed a baby boy, and his name is Angelo. I have to ask — that wasn’t a tribute to Sosa was it?
No, I did not name my son after a man on television I’ve known a couple of months. That was more my wife’s doing. we both liked the name Angelo, it has nothing to do with Sosa at all.
What’s next for you?
I want to open my own restaurant, most likely in Philadelphia, a very small restaurant but very high-end, 20-40 seats, a menu that changes often if not every day. Somewhere I can really have my hands in.