Top Chef, Michael Voltaggio

Bravo/Trae Patton

Michael Voltaggio made it perfectly clear throughout the entire season of Top Chef who he thought was going to win: him!

However, Voltaggio now admits winning isn't everything. For those not in the Top Chef loop, the runner-up was none other than Voltaggio's older brother, Bryan.

"I'm going to be honest with you—it kind of sucked," Michael told me earlier today. "The one thing I told everybody is that he would have been the first person I called to say, 'Hey, Bryan, guess what? I won Top Chef.' I didn't get to do that."

Even so, that doesn't mean Michael's handing over any of his $125,000 prize money to his brother. Read on to find out what the tattooed Pasadena, Calif.-based chef plans to do with the dough, how former fellow cheftestant Ash Fulk insulted him and what kind of mom he thinks Padma Lakshmi is going to be...

I was pretty surprised to see you crying last night when you won.
Um, I was acting actually [laughs]. I was trying to show the world that I can do more than just cook.

So, will you be giving Bryan some of the winnings?
No [laughs], but that doesn't mean we're not going to pursue some opportunities in the future together.

Why haven't you gone into business together yet?
We're slowly trying to figure out what that could look like. We started with the website and that will sort of be the launching platform for what we do next.

What will you do with the money?
First thing is to open some bank accounts. I have two daughters [ages 5 and 10] and I want them to be like, "When I turn 18, I've got something to start with."

Are you as, um, self-confident as you appeared on the show?
Confident? Yes. Arrogant? Not as much as maybe I was perceived to be. I'm actually a pretty humble person in the kitchen. I think that's how I was able to learn and grow as much as I have. I will put myself in situations where I am learning from people. I don't care if it's the dishwasher. You can learn from anybody in the kitchen.

I think everybody would agree that it seemed like Ash had a crush on you. But when I spoke to him, he said there's no way he'd be into you.
Yeah, he told me that. I was actually kind of insulted by that. I was like, "Come on, man. Why am I not your type?"

So what kind of mom do you think Padma is going to be?
I see her as probably the overprotective, the she's-just-sneezed-let's-get-her-to-the-hospital type of mom. She'll definitely have a good blender to make all her own baby food. She's going to be the ultimate mom.

Now, I have some questions for you from a couple of my Twitter followers. @justinbreton asks, "Has your experience on #TopChef changed the way you prepare, cook and serve your food?"
One thing I learned, probably from Kevin, is that it's OK to simplify. I need to go back and focus on flavor and sometimes understand that you're cooking for other people and not necessarily cooking for myself.

And @Steffanie_C wants to know if you're single.
No [laughs], and we'll just leave it at that.


Relive many of this season's Top Chef highlights right here.

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