This season of Top Chef featured a show first—two ultra-talented brothers competing head-to-head for the title. We asked Bryan Voltaggio about his most hated food, favorite Top Chef challenge, and how he measures up to his brother.
1. What’s the one holiday dish you would love to eat all year round?
Pumpkin pie. But I hold myself back for only Thanksgiving.
2. What’s the best food or kitchen-related gift you've been given?
My wife has bought me several knives over the years. She always goes to my sous chefs for suggestions. They always end up being high-quality knives because of [my chefs'] influence.
3. What was the dish or food you hated to eat the most as a kid?
Cheese Puffs, still to this day. Other than that, there is not much out there I would not try.
4. What three things are always in your fridge?
Fruits of all varieties that are seasonal. Lots of juice and milk. (I have a two-year-old.) Varieties of deli meats and charcuterie; I love sandwiches after dinner service. Varieties of small production beers; I am always trying new ones.
5. What’s the one food that always cheers you up?
Popcorn, [I] always eat [it] with a movie. If I'm eating popcorn, I must be spending time watching a movie.
6. Do you have a foolproof dish for picky kids, or advice for moms feeding a picky kid?
I'm looking for the same advice. My boy just hit that stage and my very patient wife and myself are trying everything!
7. What’s the one thing in your pantry you can never have too much of?
I have an addiction to crispy [things]. I always have some sort of chips or equivalent.
8. What's the one ingredient you'd always splurge on?
Olive oil. I believe in spending the money on a good-quality finishing oil for spring and summer cooking.
9. What's the best thing about being on Top Chef?
The best thing was the opportunity to spend time with my brother and to have an opportunity to expose my new restaurant and hometown of Frederick to many new guests. With the airing of the season, we have seen a lot of people traveling into town to experience VOLT and all our city has to offer.
10. Was having your brother on the show a positive or negative?
Very positive, it has brought us closer together and we are even planning to work together moving forward.
11. What are your strengths versus his?
He seems to take a few more risks with his food. I am a bit more conservative. When he is successful, he normally does well. I have a great fundamental base of knowledge and tend to use flavor combinations that are familiar in a new, more modern way. Michael uses the same techniques, bringing new and innovative flavor and textural combinations that make you think a bit. I like both approaches and believe we complement each other. [It's] the reason we believe we can work together.
12. Which was your favorite Quickfire or Elimination challenge?
The Joel Robuchon episode. I won a challenge judged partially by the chef of the millennium.
13. If you were going to open a restaurant with another chef from this season, who would it be and why?
Obviously, Michael, and I can go as far as to say, stay tuned...