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Tom Colicchio

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Everyone knows one will sizzle while two simmer on tonight's Top Chef finale, but what does judge Tom Colicchio think of Kevin Gillespie and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio?

We caught up with the kitchen king as he prepared to cook intimate event at Craftsteak in NYC for American Express cardmembers, complete with wine pairings and a performance by John Legend (yeah, drool!).

And, while he still wouldn't tell us who would take the big prize, he did give us a taste of which of the brothers he thinks is superior and why Kevin has been so successful…

The battle of the bros has been one of the most engaging aspects of this Las Vegas-based season, but Tom danced around officially answering which one reigns supreme.

"The thing is, most people don't really understand the role of the chef," he circumvented. "Chef doesn't mean you're a good cook and all of a sudden you graduate to that position. Chef means that you're running a kitchen…there's a lot of things that go into being a chef that we don't measure on our show."

Thankfully, he eventually got closer to answering the question:

"Michael was asked that question and he said, 'I'm probably a better cook. Bryan's a better chef.'"

As for why Kevin has done so well, Tom thinks it's all about brain power.

"He's a very bright guy, and I think he seems much older than his years. He seems much wiser than his years."

Tom also admitted Kevin inspired him personally.

"In the middle of the season, working with snails, Kevin made a bacon jam. I immediately went home and reworked it," the crafty judge confessed. "It was one of the few times I was like, 'This is fantastic!'"

Tom admits he's never hired a former Top Chef contestant, in part because he insists on fairness throughout the show. In fact, producers (other than himself, obviously) aren't even allowed to taste the food!

"I'm very happy that Bravo and the production leave the decisions up to us completely. They have absolutely no say in who stays and who goes," he says. "The second someone forces me and says, 'That person has to stay on the show,' I leave."

According to Tom, the next season won't begin shooting until one month after host Padma Lakshmi has her baby, and, despite reports, a city has yet to be determined. San Francisco, Hawaii, Texas and Washington, D.C., are among those in the running.

Wherever they go, the Vegas-friendly challenge prizes may come along for the ride.

"I think it raises the stakes," he explained. "Also, it's great to see someone reward for that particular day and I think it puts a lot more pressure on the contestants too…I love it. I wish we can continue to do it. Hopefully, the money will come through."

Cheers to that!

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