Top Chef Las Vegas Napa Valley: And The Winner Is ...

In our poll yesterday, Kevin was the clear favorite, but the general consensus was that it was really anyone's game. In case you haven't seen the show, and have managed to avoid learning the winner, we'll hold our tongue until after the jump. But we suggest you back slowly away from the internet and go watch the episode immediately.

Note: We reveal the winner and losers below.

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Well, we hope you weren't too disappointed in the outcome, because it wasn't Kevin, and it wasn't even the runner-up favorite Bryan. It was Michael!

The bad boy Voltaggio brother was the last chef standing after the final four-course meal. The chefs were asked to create one dish using all the ingredients in a mystery box (Pacific rock fish, Dungeness crab, kabocha squash, matsutake mushrooms and anise hyssop), one dish using any ingredients they wanted and one dessert. But wait! Of course there was a twist. On the morning of the last day, the chefs' moms arrived to wish them luck and another dish was added to the menu – a first course dedicated to their moms and inspired by a childhood favorite.

Here are a few of our thoughts on the episode:

  1. Sous chefs to the rescue, or not. The eliminated chefs returned to offer some assistance in the final challenge. Each of the final three drew knives to pick two sous chefs – one for that day and one for the next. Bryan was happy to choose Jennifer and Ashley, and Michael seemed pleased with Jesse and Eli. Kevin, on the other hand, didn't mask his disappointment at drawing Preeti and Ash. In the kitchen with Preeti, he was even more frustrated with her slowness and lack of overall help. The shot of her fumbling around with that squash was just painful. Kevin seemed defeated after the first day and it was clear he was in the weeds.
  2. Moms + Judges = Awkward! The moms joined the judges to taste the first course and sat through a few of their critiques. They were put on the spot and asked what they thought of their sons' food. Mama Voltaggio was even asked which of her sons' dishes she liked the best. She wisely plead the fifth, but it was all just so difficult to watch.
  3. Michael has a nice side, sort of. Whether through the magic of editing or his own restraint, Michael seemed pretty agreeable throughout the episode. There wasn't really any yelling or snotty comments and he even cracked a joke at judges' table when they asked everyone to explain why they should win saying, "I just don't want Bryan to be Top Chef." Which was probably true. And we have to admit, it was kind of sweet when he got all teary eyed at the end with his brother and his mom.
  4. Simple can be good, but it better be perfect. Following the judges' comments, it seemed that each of the chefs made a few mistakes throughout the meal. Kevin's pork belly wasn't cooked properly, Bryan's first and second courses needed more seasoning and Michael overcooked his shrimp and dessert. Had Kevin executed his meal flawlessly, we think he could have easily won. But we have a feeling the judges are less likely to overlook mistakes in less complex dishes. When everyone makes mistakes, the chef who showed the most innovation and potential is probably going to have an edge. And in this case, that was Michael.

So, what did you think of the final episode?

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Top Chef Las Vegas Roundups
Week 13: A Foot in Every Season
Week 12: The Mini Bocuse d'Or
Week 11: Big Gambles on the Strip
Week 10: Hold the Meat
Week 9: Restaurant Wars!
Week 8: Top Chef Las Vegas: Of Pigs and Pinot
Week 7: Like No Dinner Party We've Ever Had
Week 6: Angels and Devils
Week 5: Foam on the Range
Week 4: All Things French
Week 3: The Best of Plates, The Worst of Plates
Week 2: A Shot At Love With Tequila

(Images: Bravo)