Sibling Rivalry

August 19, 2009|By Jill Rosen

Two brothers from Frederick are also vying for the title of "Top Chef" this season: Bryan and Michael Voltaggio. Reporter Jill Rosen learns some of their thoughts on cooking, the show and what it's like to be competing against each other:

Michael Voltaggio

Age:: 30

Hometown: : Frederick; now lives in Pasadena, Calif.

First food job: : Worked in a Frederick hotel kitchen when he was 14 or 15 years old. His brother, Brian, was already working there. "I'm the guy who's always at work. I missed most of my 20s 'cause I'm always cooking."

Job: : Chef at Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa

What's your cooking style?: "It's hard to describe. New American, I guess. I take advantage of all the modern technology. ... I like to do a lot of 'sous vide' cooking. ... To define my style, I'd say new American cuisine accented with modern techniques and classic disciplines."

Do you have a signature dish? : "I'm really ADD when it comes to food. When I make a dish, I get tired after two weeks and I don't make it anymore."

First proud cooking moment: : Getting an apprenticeship at Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. ("I sort of snaked the thing out from Bryan. That's where the whole rivalry started.")

Do you watch "Top Chef"?: : "I watch the show. I'll watch anything that's cooking related. I think things like "Top Chef" and other shows are really allowing us to do a lot more with our careers. They're putting what we do more in market of entertainment, fashion and style."

What was your strategy on the show?: : "I think you just show up and cook. At the end of the day, that's what it's about."

What surprised you about the show?: : "I think the surprising element is how intense the competition actually is. It's easy to sit home and watch the show and say, 'I would have done that, he should have this.' When you're actually in the moment it's a lot different."

Was it strange to be competing against your own brother?: : "Bryan and I sort of drive each other. There's a competitive energy there. It's healthy."

Bryan Voltaggio

Age: : 33

Hometown: : Frederick.

Culinary education: : Degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America.

Job: : Chef and partner at Volt in Frederick, which he opened in July 2008. ("I always knew I wanted to open a restaurant in Frederick.")

What's Volt all about?: : Volt "is a culmination of working for [chef] Charlie [Palmer] and other places. My firstborn son was born when planning the restaurant. I wanted everything as local as possible. Local, sustainable or organic."

What's your cooking style?: : "I use modern and traditional cooking techniques to create a modern American experience."

Do you have a signature dish?: : "My menu changes almost daily. ... I kind of believe American cuisine is a bit global. I use ingredients from all over the world."

What made you want to go on "Top Chef"?: : "I downloaded the application for a few years. ... When filming started, my restaurant had only been open for about seven months. To leave a restaurant, it's a difficult decision to make."

What do you bring to the table on the show?: : "I believe a good resume. I'm a pretty well-rounded cook - classically trained, fundamentally strong, modern technique. I can transform very common familiar flavors into things that are very creative looking and appealing to the eye - and taste really good. I'm a good, well-rounded cook."

On competing against his brother:: "My mom's extremely nervous. Her two sons are going to be on the show competing against each other, and she doesn't know what's going to happen."

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