Young and Hungry

The New Spin for Next Season’s ‘Top Chef': Sibling Rivalry!

Bryan Voltaggio is so gonna bury bro Michael

The first thing I wanted to know from Bryan Voltaggio is why. Why did the former executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak and the current chef/owner of his own restaurant, VOLT, in Frederick feel the need to appear on Season 6 of Top Chef? He, of all people, doesn't seem to need the career bump that comes from allowing Bravo to manipulate the crap out of a chef's public image. I mean, he's not Carla Hall.

It seems Voltaggio has his motivations, and it concerns a certain younger brother, Michael Voltaggio, the chef de cuisine at the Bazaar by José Andrés.

"There's always been a bit of sibling rivalry between us," Bryan Voltaggio tells Y&H. "We wanted to prove who's the best."

This fraternal competition has been a part of the brothers' lives since growing up together in Frederick — whether in school, sports, or, now, cooking. Bryan Voltaggio calls it a "friendly thing" between two close family members, but he also admits that the rivalry has its benefits.

"It makes us push harder with our careers because it sets the bar high," says the 33-year-old Voltaggio, two-plus years older than Michael. "We have someone to one up."

That's when the thought strikes me: Oh, I get it. The producers of Top Chef picked these guys just to play up their lifelong sibling rivalry. So I asked Bryan Voltaggio if he thought that's why the producers selected them.

That's when a publicist for Top Chef comes on the line to say, in no uncertain terms, that Voltaggio can't speak for the producers. Nor could he say whether he bested his brother in the competition, which debuts on Aug. 26 on Bravo.

Voltaggio, of course, could comment on something based far more on day-to-day reality than any manipulated controversy on a reality TV program: His brother's four-star review from the Los Angeles Times. A four-star review, I should note, that Michael Voltaggio earned right out of the box. VOLT, by contrast, stands at two and a half stars from the Washington Post.

Does Voltaggio have any feelings about his brother's perfect score?

"It was a very proud moment...He did a fantastic job," Voltaggio says genuinely. "It's obviously something I'd like to achieve....He's obviously raised the bar."

  • David

    Pretty cool to have brothers on the show, though I hope it's not laid on too think. Top Chef seems to be getting a little too vested in gimmicks lately.

    You wrote, "I mean, he’s not Carla Hall."

    Whistle! ***foul on the play!***

    To say that would suggest that Carla went on the show for a career bump or Bravo manipulation of her iamge. From all accounts, Carla didn't go on the show for fame or a "career bump." Even your own reporting (the article hyperlinked to her name) reveals that she doesn't want to open a restaurant--bucking convention. From what I've read and heard in interviews, Carla Hall went on the show as a personal challenge. In fact, she was asked to apply for the show. She didn't seek it out.

  • Tim Carman

    David, I didn't mean to imply Carla Hall went on Top Chef for a career bump. What I was trying to imply is that Hall's public profile has jumped considerably since she went on the show; before Top Chef, few if anyone knew her. Now she's a celeb who tours the country, gets in magazines, and has thousands of fans.

    Voltaggio already has a pretty high profile.

    I don't think even the delightful Carla would argue (much) with this.


  • David

    Thanks, and I apologize for being too literal.

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  • Marie

    Thanks for clarifying. Carla soars way above some of the other people who have not only had a pass, but are an embarrassment. She certainly is not. I have used her recipes, and intend to use a couple of them during the holiday period. Just because these people make it on Bravo doesn't mean they are the best. Seriously.

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