Split personality: Michael Voltaggio as gadget nerd (left, with hand smoker) and home cook. Photo © Peden + Munk.
If every reality show needs a villain, then Michael Voltaggio picked up a second title on Season 6 of Bravo's Top Chef. The 31-year-old winner earned a reputation for being arrogant with comments like "Kevin's food is what I cook on my day off," his now-infamous knock against finalist Kevin Gillespie. It didn't help that viewers learned so little about his personal life (he has two little daughters, ages five and 10) and that he never asked for sympathy (he woke up with a 103.5° fever the morning of the Bocuse d'Or elimination challenge but refused to go to the hospital, signing a medical waiver—and ultimately lost to Kevin).
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All of which left us at F&W wondering: Could an intense and somewhat intimidating chef like Michael Voltaggio—a technical master with a penchant for futuristic ingredients, like liquid nitrogen and agar—create simple recipes for the home cook? Would he even agree to?