Local Stars to Compete for Top Chef Title
If there was still any doubt that Washington is a hot restaurant town, it should be put to rest by the roster of chefs competing in the sixth season of Bravo TV's "Top Chef." Mike Isabella, chef at Zaytinya, and Bryan Voltaggio, chef-owner of Volt in Frederick, are headed for Las Vegas, where the sixth season of Bravo's hit show is set. Also included among the 17 cheftestants is Michael Voltaggio, Bryan's brother, who is chef de cuisine at D.C. superstar José Andrés's new Los Angeles restaurant, Bazaar (which makes him sort of one of our own, doesn't it?).
In an interview today, Bryan said he was "surprised and very happy" to see Washington so well represented. He was also thrilled to take on his younger brother in the kitchen. The pair grew up cooking together but as professionals have kept a friendly competition going, especially when they both worked for Charlie Palmer. (Bryan worked at Aureole in New York and Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington; Michael worked at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, Calif.)
"Top Chef" filming in Las Vegas lasted six weeks; all episodes have been taped except the finale. It was a long time for Voltaggio to be away from Volt, which celebrates its first anniversary July 25. As in past seasons, the hometown boys competed in quick-fire challenges to check their basic abilities and in elimination rounds designed to test versatility and inventiveness. The experience, says Bryan, tapped different skills from those he uses on a daily basis: "It made me dig deep in my repertoire and recreate dishes I've seen and done before in a new way. It was different than being in your own kitchen. But it was a lot of fun."
Hosts Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi are the regular judges; guest judges include a variety of boldface names including sultry British cook Nigella Lawson, actor Natalie Portman and magicians Penn & Teller.
The new series kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
-- Jane Black
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