Top Chef Season 6 was filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada. The judges remained the same as in Top Chef (Season 5). The finale took place in Napa, California. Kevin Gillespie and brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio were finalists, with Michael Voltaggio winning the title of Top Chef. Kevin Gillespie, who finished third overall in the competition, was voted Fan Favorite.
- Jennifer (Jen) Zavala, 31 — Resides in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Eve Aronoff, 40 — Resides in: Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Preeti Mistry, 33 — Resides in: San Francisco, California
- Jesse Sandlin, 30 — Resides in: Baltimore, Maryland
- Hector Santiago, 41 — Resides in: Atlanta, Georgia (Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico)
- Mattin Noblia, 29 — Resides in: San Francisco, California (Hometown: Biarritz, France)
- Ron Duprat, 40 — Resides in: Hollywood, Florida and Naples, Florida (Hometown: Mare Rouge, Haiti)
- Ashley Merriman, 32 —Resides in: Seattle, Washington (Hometown: Center Sandwich, New Hampshire)
- Ash Fulk, 29 — Resides in: New York City (Hometown: Pleasant Hill, California)
- Laurine Wickett Hope, 38 — Resides in: San Francisco, California (Hometown: Rochester, New York)
- Mike Isabella, 34 — Resides in: Washington, D.C. (Hometown: North Jersey)
- Robin Leventhal, 43 — Resides in: Seattle, Washington (Hometown: Sun Valley, Idaho)
- Eli Kirshtein, 25 — Resides in: Atlanta, Georgia
- Jennifer Carroll, 33 — Resides in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Kevin Gillespie, 26 — Resides in: Atlanta, Georgia -- Runner-up / Fan Favorite
- Bryan Voltaggio, 33 — Resides in: Urbana, Maryland (Hometown: Frederick, Maryland) -- Runner-up
- Michael Voltaggio, 30 — Resides in: Pasadena, California (Hometown: Frederick, Maryland) -- Winner
Episode 1: Sin City ViceEdit
Quickfire Challenge (Round 1): The 17 chefs are divided into four teams to compete in a mise en place relay race in which each member must perform one of four tasks: shuck 15 clams, peel 30 spot prawns, clean five lobsters, or butcher two chops from an entire prime rib. The chefs draw poker chips to determine their teams (black, blue, green, or red); a gold chip was drawn by Robin, exempting her from the Quickfire and giving her immunity in the Elimination Challenge. The first team to finish all four tasks wins the challenge.
Black Team (Mike, Ashley, Hector, Eli)
Blue Team (Jennifer, Bryan, Jesse, Mattin)
Green Team (Laurine, Ron, Ash, Jen)
Red Team (Kevin, Preeti, Eve, Michael)
WINNING TEAM: Blue Team
Quickfire Challenge (Round 2): Each member of the Blue Team is given 30 minutes to cook a dish using the ingredient they worked with in the relay race. The chef of the winning dish receives $15,000. Robin was given the choice to trade her immunity for a chance to compete, but declined.
Top: Jennifer, Jesse
Bottom: Bryan, Mattin
WINNER: Jennifer (Clam Ceviche with Citron Vinegar)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs must create a dish to battle against the chefs in their teams from the Quickfire. The chefs are to cook a dish based on one of their personal "vices." Robin is given a choice of team, and elects to cook with the Blue Team. One member from each team will be in the running for a win and one from each team will be up for elimination.
WINNER: Kevin ("Procrastination": Arctic Char with Turnip Salsa Verde)
ELIMINATED: Jen ("Hot Temper": Chile Relleno stuffed with Seitan and Tomatillo Salsa)
Guest Judge: Wolfgang Puck
Original Airdate: August 19, 2009
Episode 2: Bachelor/Ette PartyEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs each roll a pair of six-sided dice at a craps table in the Top Chef kitchen. They then have 30 minutes to create a dish with the number of ingredients they rolled on the dice (two through ten), not counting salt, pepper, and oil. This is another high-stakes Quickfire; the winner gets immunity from elimination and $15,000.
Top: Jennifer, Kevin, Michael
Bottom: Bryan, Eve, Jesse
WINNER: Michael (Nitro Gazpacho, Compressed Cucumbers and Toast)
Elimination Challenge: In order to cater a bachelor/bachelorette party, the group is split between male and female for a battle of the sexes. The men prepare dishes for the bride-to-be, while the women cook for the prospective groom. A member of the winning team will be picked as the winner; a member of the losing team will be up for elimination. At least two dishes must be paired with each of the three cocktails the couple has chosen to serve their guests: Moscow Mule, tequila shots, or Golden Delicious (Goldschläger and sparkling apple cider). Each team is given $800 with 30 minutes to shop, two hours to prep, and one hour to set up their tables before poolside service the next day. The men are declared the winning team, thus one of the women must be eliminated.
WINNER: Bryan (Tequila shot: Sweet and Sour Macaroon Filled with Guacamole, Corn Nuts, and Corn Puree)
ELIMINATED: Eve (Tequila shot: Gulf Shrimp and Avocado Ceviche with Smokey Tomato Salsa and Popcorn)
Guest Judge: Todd English
Original Airdate: August 26, 2009
Episode 3: ThunderbirdsEdit
Quickfire Challenge: Each chef must create an "out of this world" dish using an assortment of different potatoes. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
Top: Ash, Ashley, Jennifer
Bottom: Eli, Jesse, Ron
WINNER: Jennifer (Steamed Mussels, Yukon Gold and Blue Potatoes with Lemongrass Potato Sauce)
Elimination Challenge: With limited time and supplies, the chefs must cater a meal for 300 airmen at Nellis Air Force Base. They all must work as one team, but they later decide to split up into smaller groups of two and make one dish each. Jennifer is appointed executive chef because she has immunity after winning the Quickfire. At Judges' Table, Mike is initially among the top chefs in the challenge, and then is asked to return with the bottom group, due to a poor second dish he was not required to make.
WINNER: Michael (Braised Pork Belly with Soy Mustard and Peanuts)
ELIMINATED: Preeti (Farfalle Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts, Broccoli, Red Onion, and Red Wine Vinaigrette)
Guest Judge: Mark Peel
Original Airdate: September 2, 2009
Episode 4: Vivre Las VegasEdit
Quickfire Challenge: As a tribute to the continuing popularity of French cuisine in the United States, each chef must create a dish using escargot. The winner gets immunity in the Elimination Challenge and a prize to be announced later, while the loser goes home. After announcing the bottom three dishes, the chefs who cooked them are each given a second chance to save themselves, with 20 minutes to do an amuse-bouche cook-off.
Top: Jennifer, Kevin, Mike
Bottom: Ashley, Jesse, Robin
WINNER: Kevin (Escargot Fricassee with Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts and Candied Bacon Jam)
ELIMINATED: Jesse (Tuna Tartare with Sorrel, Gooseberries, Fried Quail Egg and Fried Bread)
Elimination Challenge: Each chef draws a knife that shows either a traditional French sauce or a protein on it. The chefs then pair up each protein with its traditional sauce to create a six-course meal for a table of esteemed French chefs, including Hubert Keller, Jean Joho, Laurent Tourondel, Joël Robuchon. Kevin is also guest at the table (and exempt from this challenge), as his prize for winning the Quickfire.
First Course: Frogs' Legs (Ron) and Sauce Meunière (Robin)
Second Course: Trout (Bryan) and Sauce Béarnaise (Mike)
Third Course: Lobster (Laurine) and Sauce Américaine (Eli)
Fourth Course: Young Chicken (Ashley) and Sauce Velouté (Mattin)
Fifth Course: Rabbit (Michael) and Sauce Chasseur (Jennifer)
Sixth Course: Chateaubriand (Hector) and Sauce au Poivre (Ash)
WINNER: Bryan (Warm Cured Trout with Deconstructed Sauce Bearnaise and Pommes Soufflées)
ELIMINATED: Hector (Chateaubriand, Sauce au Poivre with Confit de Pommes and Spinach)
Guest Judge: Daniel Boulud
Original Airdate: September 9, 2009
Episode 5: CampingEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must cook a dish using a viewer-selected ingredient: cactus. This is a high-stakes quickfire with the winning chef receiving a $15,000 chip but no immunity.
Top: Laurine, Mattin, Mike
Bottom: Ash, Michael, Ron
WINNER: Mike (Cactus and Tuna Ceviche with Pipian)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs must prepare a high-end lunch dish on an outdoor ranch for two dozen cowboys, using fire pits and limited supplies.
WINNER: Bryan (Roasted Pork Loin over Corn Polenta with Dandelion Greens, and Glazed Rutabaga)
ELIMINATED: Mattin (Ceviche Three Ways: Salmon with Apple, Spicy Tuna, and Cod with Corn)
Guest Judge: Tim Love
First aired: September 16, 2009
Episode 6: Penn & TellerEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must create two contrasting dishes, inspired by "the angel and the devil on their shoulder." The winner receives immunity in the Elimination Challenge.
Top: Eli, Michael, Robin
Bottom: Ash, Bryan, Laurine
WINNER: Robin (Apple Crisp vs. Raw Salad of Apple and Fennel)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs are asked to deconstruct a classic recipe and re-imagine its components into their own signature dishes to be served at a meal for Penn & Teller.
WINNER: Kevin (Chicken Mole Negro: Chicken Croquette, Mexican Fig Coffee Jam, and Pumpkin Seed Romesco)
ELIMINATED: Ron (Paella: Seafood Paella w/ Lemon and Herb Oil, Chayote and Peas)
Guest Judge: Michelle Bernstein
Original Airdate: September 23, 2009
Episode 7: Dinner PartyEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs use a slot machine to determine the themes (mood, taste/texture, and origin of cuisine) of their dish. The winner is given a choice between immunity or $15,000.
Top: Kevin, Michael, Mike
Bottom: Eli, Jennifer, Robin
WINNER: Kevin (Stressed, Hot and Spicy, Asian: Char-Grilled Pork with Vietnamese Herb Salad); Chose the $15,000 prize
Elimination Challenge: The chefs are teamed up via a blind knife draw and receive market bags from dinner guests who are noted chefs. Working in teams of the two, they cook and serve a dinner at their house. Dinner guests are Tyler Florence, Nancy Silverton, Govind Armstrong, Takashi Yagihashi, and Tom Douglas.
Ash and Michael: Silverton's market bag. (Pancetta-Wrapped Halibut with Egg Yolk Ravioli, Asparagus and Fennel Salad)
Ashley and Eli: Armstrong's market bag. (Grilled Spot Prawns with Red Beet Crème fraîche sauce, Gnocchi and Kale)
Bryan and Laurine: Florence's market bag. (Halibut with Sherry-Chorizo Vinaigrette, Yellow Corn Cake and Avocado Mousse)
Jennifer and Kevin: Douglas's market bag. (BBQ Kobe Beef with Cardamom, Tomato and Ginger Broth)
Mike and Robin: Yagihashi's market bag. (Marinated Mushrooms and Pickled Asian Pear Roll with Seared Tuna and Scallop)
Winner's Prize: $10,000 gift card from Macy's
Guest Judge: Tyler Florence
Original Airdate: October 7, 2009
Episode 8: Pigs & PinotEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must make a dish to pair with a designated type and brand of crunchy snack foods.
Top: Bryan, Eli, Kevin
Bottom: Ash, Jennifer, Robin
WINNER: Eli (Warm Potato Clam Salad with Cold Fennel, Celery, and White Truffle Sauce)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs are required to create a dish using a designated cut of pork, which they must pair with a self-chosen Pinot Noir as part of Chef Charlie Palmer’s annual Pigs & Pinot charity fundraiser. Cuts of pork are assigned by blind knife draw. Jennifer drew a "wildcard" knife, allowing her to select her cut.
WINNER: Kevin (Pork Leg Pâté with Mushroom Salad and Pickled Cherries; paired with 2006 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir)
ELIMINATED: Ash (Chilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry and Corn Salad; paired with 2007 Sanford Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir)
Winner's Prize: An invitation to participate in the 2010 Pigs & Pinot event
Guest Judge: Charlie Palmer
Original Airdate: October 14, 2009
Episode 9: Restaurant WarsEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are required to team up four to four and compete in a tag-team cook-off, with Rick Moonen serving as a guest judge. First, a set of knives is presented for each chef to draw from; however, only two knives have messages: Jennifer draws "first choice" and Michael draws "second choice". Next, the teams are to decide what order they would cook in, but they are not allowed to communicate with each other in regards to the components of their dish. The teams have 40 minutes total (10 minutes individually) to alternate execution of the dish. The winning team is given a choice between splitting $10,000 between the group members or carrying it into the Elimination Challenge, where if their team wins, they will each receive $10,000. The winners will also receive a second advantage, announced later. The teams cooked in the following respective order:
First Choice Team: Jennifer, Laurine, Mike, Kevin (Sablefish with Sautéed Mushrooms, Shiitake Broth, and Radish Salad in Yuzu Vinaigrette)
Second Choice Team: Eli, Robin, Bryan, Michael (Pan-roasted New York Strip Steak with Whipped Miso, Avocado Purée, and Pickled Vegetables)
WINNERS: Jennifer, Kevin, Laurine, and Mike; Chose to gamble prize on Elimination Challenge
Elimination Challenge: Using the same teams as in the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs participate in "Restaurant Wars". Each team cooks and serves in one of Moonen's kitchens and dining rooms at his "rm" establishment. The winning Quickfire team is given their second reward: the choice of the kitchen; they choose the upstairs restaurant. Each team is given money to shop at both Whole Foods and Restaurant Depot. They are not responsible for the decor. Jennifer's team selects the name Mission for their restaurant, while Michael's team selects the name REVolt (an amalgamation of all of their names - Robin, Eli, and the Voltaggio brothers). Laurine and Eli were appointed as the front of house for their respective teams. At Judges' Table, Tom Colicchio deemed Team Revolt as the best restaurant in Restaurant Wars history.
REVolt: Michael, Bryan, Eli, Robin
1st Course: Smoked Arctic Char with Beet Sauce and Horseradish Cream (Eli) or Chicken and Calamari Pasta (Michael)
2nd Course: Duo of Beef, Braised Short Ribs (Bryan) or Cod with Mussel Billi Bi (Michael)
3rd Course: Chocolate Ganache with Spearmint Ice Cream and Chocolate Tuiles (Bryan) or Pear Pithivier (Robin)
Mission: Jennifer, Kevin, Mike, Laurine
1st Course (Mike): Asparagus and Six-Minute Egg or Arctic Char Tartare
2nd Course (Jennifer): Trout with Hazelnut Butter or Bouillabaisse
3rd Course: Lamb with Carrot Jam (Laurine) or Pork Three Ways (Kevin)
WINNING TEAM: Team REVolt
ELIMINATED: Laurine of Team Mission
Winner's Prize: Each member of the team received an autographed copy of Moonen's book. In addition, Michael received the $10,000 prize surrendered by the opposing team at Quickfire, which he split among his teammates (Bryan later refused his share.)
Guest Judge: Rick Moonen
Original Airdate: October 21, 2009
Episode 10: Meat NatalieEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs pick television series by blind knife draw and are to make a TV dinner based upon the series.
Top: Bryan, Kevin
Bottom: Jennifer, Robin
WINNER: Kevin (Meatballs with Polenta, Roasted Cauliflower and Roasted Pear)
Guest Judge: Paul Bartolotta
Elimination Challenge: At Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak restaurant, the chefs must each prepare a vegetarian dish for Natalie Portman and her friends.
WINNER: Kevin (Duo of Mushrooms, Smoked Kale, Candied Garlic and Turnip Puree)
ELIMINATED: Mike (Whole Roasted Leeks with Onion Jus, Baby Carrot Puree, and Fingerling Potato)
Guest Judges: Natalie Portman, Paul Bartolotta
Original Airdate: October 28, 2009
Episode 11: Strip Around the WorldEdit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must create a "breakfast in bed" dish for Padma and guest judge Nigella Lawson.
Top: Eli, Kevin
Bottom: Bryan, Robin
WINNER: Eli (Fried Egg Reuben Benedict with Thousand Island Hollandaise Sauce)
Winner's Prize: Eli's recipe will be the only Quickfire dish from season 6 in the Top Chef Quickfire Recipe Book.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs must prepare small plates inspired by Vegas casinos for 175 guests at a reception held at the World Market Center.
WINNER: Michael (New York, New York: Upscale Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing)
ELIMINATED: Robin (Bellagio: Stained Glass Panna Cotta)
Winner's Prize: Bottle of Terlato Wine and 2 day/3 night trip to the Terlato Family Vinyards in Napa Valley
Guest Judge: Nigella Lawson
Original Airdate: November 11, 2009
Episode 12: Culinary OlympicsEdit
The final five chefs participate in a version of the Bocuse d'Or cooking competition that was established by legendary French chef Paul Bocuse.
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs create their own version of Gavin Kaysen's dish for the 2007 Bocuse d'Or (Ballotine of Chicken, Chicken Liver and Crayfish)
WINNER: Jennifer (Calamari Steak, Scallops, Salmon, Shiitake, Shiso with Rice Noodle Salad)
Winner's Prize: An extra thirty minutes to cook in the Elimination Challenge.
Guest Judge: Gavin Kaysen
Elimination Challenge: The chefs must prepare a presentation platter for the Bocuse d'Or with one protein (Atlantic salmon or lamb) and two garnishes.
WINNER: Kevin (Poached Lamb Loin, Sherry-glazed Golden Beets and Asparagus in Sunchoke Cream)
ELIMINATED: Eli (Sausage-wrapped Lamb Loin, Ras el hanout and Carrot Puree, Tomato-Piquillo Marmalade)
Winner's Prize: $30,000 and the opportunity to compete to represent the United States in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or.
Guest Judges: Jerome Bocuse; Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Gavin Kaysen, Timothy Hollingsworth, Alessandro Stratta, Traci Des Jardins
Original Airdate: November 18, 2009
Episode 13: Napa Finale, Part 1Edit
The four remaining chefs compete in the finale which takes place in Napa, California's wine country. These final challenges make the final four into three for the last part of the finale.
Quickfire Challenge: Chefs create a dish using grapes.
WINNER: Michael (Grape Leaf stuffed with Couscous and Vinegar-Glazed Grape and Scallop Kabob)
Winner's Prize: A 2010 Toyota Prius.
Elimination Challenge: Chefs create two dishes to serve to 150 guests at a "crush party" to celebrate the grape harvest. With the exception of salt and pepper, all the ingredients must be local. One dish must be vegetarian.
WINNER: Bryan (Goat Cheese Ravioli, Delicata Squash Puree, and Bronze Fennel; Fig-Glazed Short Ribs, Celeriac Puree, Wax Beans, and Wild Arugula)
ELIMINATED: Jennifer (Chevre Mousse with Honey Mushrooms, Braised Radishes, and Basil; Braised Duck Legs, Confit of Duck Breast, Squash Puree, and Foie Gras Vinaigrette)
Guest Judge: Michael Chiarello
Original Airdate: December 2, 2009
Episode 14: Napa Finale, Part 2Edit
The final three cook the best meal of their lives to determine who is Top Chef.
Final Challenge: The chefs must create four dishes. The first recalls a favorite dish from their childhood, the second requires they use all the ingredients in a mystery box, the third is the chef's choice, and the final must be a dessert. The chefs drew knives to determine which two of the previously eliminated contestants from this season would be their sous chefs. Kevin drew Preeti and Ash; Bryan drew Jennifer and Ashley; and Michael drew Jesse and Eli. On the day of the challenge, the finalists' mothers visited, and were the guests for the childhood course of the final meal.
First Course: Sardine, German Butterball Potato, Heirloom Tomato and Panko Bread Crumbs
Second Course: Rockfish Sous Vide, Kabocha Squash with Curry and Meyer Lemon
Third Course: Venison Saddle with Purée of Sunchokes and Orange Juniper Sauce
Fourth Course: "Dulce de Leche" Cheesecake with Fig Sorbet, Poached Pear and Basil
First Course: Southern Fried Chicken Skin with Squash Casserole and Tomato
Second Course: Pacific Rockfish, Roasted Squash, Crab Broth and Roasted Matsutake Mushroom
Third Course: Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Caramelized Ham Jus
Fourth Course: Roasted Banana, Toasted Peanut with Chocolate Bacon Mousse and Bacon Brittle
First Course: Cream of Dehydrated Broccoli, Fried Broccoli and Spot Prawn
Second Course: Dashi-Glazed Rockfish, Sweet and Sour Crab Salad with Squash and Meyer Lemon
Third Course: Fennel-Scented Squab Breast, Pistachio Cassoulet and Textures of Mushrooms
Fourth Course: Chocolate Caramel Coulant, Butternut Squash Brûlée and Butternut Ice Cream
TOP CHEF: Michael
RUNNERS-UP: Bryan and Kevin
Original Airdate: December 9, 2009
Episode 15: Watch What Happens ReunionEdit
Bravo's Andy Cohen hosts a reunion of the chefs participating in Season 6.
Original Airdate: December 16, 2009
Kevin was revealed as Fan Favorite the following night on Watch What Happens Live, Bryan was announced as the runner-up.
The judges unanimously declared that Season 6 was the strongest season of Top Chef yet.