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We have a 'Top Chef' winner: He's a Voltaggio

Michael Voltaggio, left, and brother Bryan prepare for a Quickfire challenge on "Top Chef." (Bravo/Trae Patton)

Would a hometown boy take the "Top Chef" prize? A crowd of civic boosters and hard-core foodies turned out to cheer on Frederick, Md., native Bryan Voltaggio, 33, for a viewing party at his restaurant, Volt, hopeful that he'd take home the championship.
Their disappointment was instantly tempered by the fact that he lost the $125,000 prize to another Frederick kid: his own brother.

In a tented party in the modern American restaurant's garden, the chants of "Bryan! Bryan! Bryan!" turned to cheers when show host Padma Lakshmi uttered, "Michael, you are Top Chef." Michael Voltaggio, 31, is chef at the Dining Room at the Langham in Pasadena, Calif., and the hordes of well-wishers seemed almost as satisfied as if Bryan himself had won. "I knew going in that it was going to be tough," Bryan told the crowd, "but there's still some debate about who the best is, and I'll keep that between the two of us."

The party was packed with chefs such as R.J. Cooper of Vidalia plus fellow "Top Chef" contestants Mike Isabella of Zaytinya, who pulled up in a stretch Hummer limo, and Jesse Sandlin of Baltimore. Charcuterie, rice balls with garlic aioli, and spicy tuna tartare with soy foam were served at a party hosted by Frederick's tourism council, which is thrilled with the business the restaurant has lured to town, reports our colleague Joe Yonan.

From left, "Top Chef" finalists Michael Voltaggio, Bryan Voltaggio and Kevin Gillespie. (Bravo/Virginia Sherwood)Enlarge Image

The brotherly rivalry provided the season's narrative arc, and the Voltaggios are capitalizing on it, debuting a Web site and announcing plans for a cookbook and possibly a restaurant. Their final appearance before the judges captured the dynamic perfectly. When each was asked to say why he should be Top Chef, Atlanta's Kevin Gillespie talked about "soulful food." Bryan said, "I felt like I expressed my cuisine. That's what means the most to me." Michael said, "I just don't want Bryan to win."

By The Reliable Source  |  December 10, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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I realize I did not taste the food - but is sure looked like Bryan was the winner to me

Posted by: Stevida | December 10, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I was hoping Kevin would win, but figured early on that one of the Voltaggios had a strong chance of bagging it. Thought it would be Bryan over Michael.

Posted by: klmarshall_md | December 10, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

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