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Photos of Rick Bayless vs. Michael Voltaggio at the 2010 Food & Wine Classic Quickfire

Quickfire Faceoff! Rick Bayless vs. Michael Voltaggio

The final Aspen Food & Wine event is the Classic Quickfire, a timed cooking competition between the most recent Top Chef winner and an acclaimed chef (such as Jacques Pepin). This year, Top Chef champion Michael Voltaggio was up against stiff competition: Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless!

Host Sissy Biggers announced the theme was "sexy vegetables." Just like on the show, the two contenders drew knives to determine their main ingredients: Rick drew "surf," which meant whole lobsters, while Michael took "turf," which equated to rack of lamb.

They were also given leftover ingredients from previous cooking demos to work with and one sous chef each (Michael's was the fun and feisty actress Allison Janney). Rick Bayless stunned the judges with a roasted tomatillo salsa-topped lobster and potato course; meanwhile, Michael Voltaggio wowed the crowd with his frozen sangria starter and seared lamb loin and eggplant crostini with tomato seed "caviar."


Once the Quickfire commenced, the clock counted down from 25 minutes.

Sissy Biggers interviewing Michael Voltaggio about his plan of attack.

The Top Chef winner's strategy was actually to pull out all the guns — including this giant container of liquid nitrogen as a joke.

Rick Bayless and his cohort huddle as the Quickfire begins.

Jacques and Sissy talking to Michael Voltaggio's sous chef for the challenge, actress Allison Janney, about her game plan.

See the two chefs in action — and find out the winner of the quickfire! — when you read on.


Once the Quickfire commenced, the clock counted down from 25 minutes.

Sissy Biggers interviewing Michael Voltaggio about his plan of attack.

The Top Chef winner's strategy was actually to pull out all the guns — including this giant container of liquid nitrogen as a joke.

Rick Bayless and his cohort huddle as the Quickfire begins.

Jacques and Sissy talking to Michael Voltaggio's sous chef for the challenge, actress Allison Janney, about her game plan.

Allison Janney and Michael Voltaggio hard at work.

Michael buried in some serious liquid nitro clouds. He used the high-tech ingredient to create a frozen sangria as his first dish.

Sissy talking to Rick Bayless and his sous chef (a guy from the audience who paid $10,000 in an auction to be there!) about their Quickfire dishes.

The whole audience grimaced as Rick slaughtered a live lobster in between the eyes.

Michael Voltaggio was so fun to watch in action. I couldn't help but wish his brother Bryan, who was sitting in the front row, was up there cooking, too!

Sissy Biggers introduced the panelists: Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio, Aspen veteran Jacques Pepin, Food & Wine editor in chief Dana Cowin, and Gail Simmons of Top Chef and Food & Wine.

The hilarious, ebullient Sissy Biggers with the four Quickfire panelists.

The judges deliberating over the food and their pomegranate cocktails. Gail admitted to being hungover!

Tom weighing in on his lobster. Meanwhile, the audience voted on the dishes by holding up pieces of paper: solid pink for Rick and blue for Michael. The audience vote looked nearly split.

And the winner is . . . Rick Bayless for his lobster dish!
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