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…)