Photo Credit: Bravo

Yesterday we offered up our interview with the West Coast’s last remaining cheftestant on tonight’s Top Chef finale – Michael Voltaggio.  Today we’re bringing you a follow-up interview with the East Coast’s own Voltaggio: Bryan.  He’s already made it further than DC’s first Top Chef, Spike Mendelsohn, and he seems poised to follow in the footsteps of Carla Hall who was one of the top three competitors last season.

We caught Chef Voltaggio in the kitchen at VOLT, the restaurant he opened in Frederick, Maryland, about a year and a half ago.  No resting on his laurels for this Top Chef – Voltaggio was hard at work sauteeing sweetbreads for that evening’s dinner service and had to step away from the phone a few times to make sure everything came out just right.  It’s that kind of attention to detail that helped him to three Elimination Challenge wins.

In the course of our interview, we discussed several of the same topics we asked his brother, Michael about: fan reactions in his restaurant, sibling rivalry, the impact of the competition on their family members.  Check out the conversation, and then tune in tonight to see whether the Voltaggios will be able to take their rivalry all the way to the finale.

Capital Spice: Good afternoon, Chef.  It’s great to have an opportunity to follow up with you now that we know you’ve made it so far.  Congratulations on your success.
Bryan Voltaggio: Thanks.  Happy to talk with you again.

CS: What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen since the show started airing?
BV: Without a doubt, the show has put a new focus on VOLT.  We’re seeing increased foot traffic, especially on Saturdays and Sundays as people from Washington visit Frederick.

CS: You grew up in the area.  How does it feel to know that you’re having a hand in bringing more people to town?
BV: It’s been terrific – we all tend to share business throughout the community.  If we’re booked solid at VOLT, we’ll happily recommend people check out other restaurants in town – and they’ll do the same for us.

CS: One of the things that fans have noticed is the concentration of wins with just a few chefs this season.  You and the other three finalists are the ONLY contestants to win an Elimination Challenge.  What was your take on the competition?
BV: Everyone from the judges to former contestants have said that the level of competition this season is higher than it ever has been before.  I can honestly say that every single contestant deserved to be there for the food they were cooking.  The challenge wins don’t reflect the reality of the overall skill level in that kitchen.

Bryan’s take on the Voltaggio sibling rivalry, his mother’s reaction, and forgetting an anniversary after the jump. (more…)

Image courtesy of Bravo

As we head into the two-week finale of Top Chef Season 6, Washingtonians have a pair of reasons to celebrate.  Brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio grew up in nearby Frederick, Maryland, and their careers have followed similar but distinctly different paths.  Each brother has racked up an impressive three Elimination Challenge wins, and Michael can claim an additional Quickfire win to give him the slightest of bragging rights over his brother.

Over the course of the season, Bravo has been dilligent in bringing us the brother-vs.-brother tidbits, showcasing the rivalry and playing it up as the biggest thing since Cain and Abel.  But what was it really like for the Voltaggio brothers?  And how has their side-by-side success affected their family?

We caught up with each of the Voltaggios over the phone in advance of tomorrow night’s finale, and we asked them a few questions about their experience on the show.  We also asked about what it’s been like in their restaurants since the season began and what they’ve got in the works.

Today we’ve got our interview with Michael Voltaggio, Chef de Cuisine of the Dining Room at the Langham in Pasadena, California.  Check back tomorrow for our follow-up interview with even-more-local-boy Bryan Voltaggio, and then make up your mind about which brother you’re rooting for to win it all!

Capital Spice: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Chef.  I’m sure you’ve been asked this by everyone you’ve spoken to since the show aired, but what was it like having your brother on the show?
Michael Voltaggio: It was a lot of fun, and definitely an incentive to do the show in the first place.  We each expected the other one to do really well on the show…and we’re both very pleased.

CS: The show seemed to play up the sibling rivalry element in the kitchen.  What was it like off-camera?  Are you two really that competitive?
MV: There’s only so much they can do to play up what you see on screen.  We absolutely push each other both on and off camera.  You have to expect that kind of competitiveness among brothers to begin with – the fact that we work in the same field intensifies it.  The bonus is that our shared experiences mean we’re able to support each other, too.

Favorite wins, plans at the Dining Room, and the effect of his and Bryan’s success on their mother after the jump. (more…)

img_6964When wine tasting – which as we all know is yuppese for getting drunk outside during the day in a socially acceptable manner – it is important to lay down a base. Because there is tipsy in the wine cave and then there is puking in the parking lot. The latter will get you booted from the vineyards for life, doomed to limit your wine tasting to NASCAR events.

Needless to say, we made a point to eat well when wine tasting in Sonoma. We were traveling around the rolling, green hills of Healdsburg, CA and needed a lunch spot to fill up. And when seeking out the best under the radar wine Northern California has to offer, a Taco Bell nacho grande would not do. No sir, we were headed to the Dry Creek Kitchen for a heady lunch.

Dry Creek Kitchen is a Charlie Palmer property, fusing French and Italian sensibilities with a very Californian drive.  img_6929Although still officially based in Manhattan, Palmer’s family lives in the area and you can catch a glimpse of this mountain man working the dining room from time to time. How will you know its him? Just keep an eye out for a dude who looks like he just felled a redwood with his bare hands. That’s probably Palmer.

Most days, the restaurant is steered by the very capable hands of Chef de Cuisine Les Goodman, who has added several new items to the menu since his arrival at the Kitchen. We started our meal with an ahi tuna carpaccio, served with shaved fennel, local citrus and brioche croutons. The dish was bright and flavorful – an edible cure for any case of winter blues. If I could, I would have packed 5 more of these to go so I could break it out as a delicious snack over the next few days.

More dishes after the jump.