In October of 2011, we released VOLT ink., the debut cookbook from Bryan and Michael Voltaggio. These chef-brothers are known for their top restaurants in Frederick, Maryland, and Los Angeles, California, respectively, and for their head-to-head competition on season 6 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef. As part of their book tour, the brothers stopped at the Apple Store in the Upper West Side of Manhattan to chat with Saveur magazine editor-in-chief, James Oseland, about their creative process and to launch their new book in the iBookstore.
Here are five surprising things we learned about them that evening:
1. Michael used to hate green vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts.
James: Do you like Brussels sprouts now?
Michael: If they have enough bacon in them. Actually, today I really enjoy taking ingredients that I didn’t like as a child and turning them into something delicious.
2. Bryan was the first to get inked.
James: Who got the first tattoo?
Bryan: I did. I got a dragon on my ankle when I was sixteen.
3. Bryan and Michael eat junk food sometimes.
James: In the book, you mention popular snack foods—Funions, everything bagels, beef jerky, Dippin’ Dots. It really lends a sense of playfulness. And that makes me curious: What are some of your guilty pleasures?
Bryan: I like crispy things. Potato chips. I like all the interesting flavors that are out now. But I hate Cheetos.
Michael: Bryan not only hates Cheetos, he used to be afraid of them. When we were younger, I would chase him around the house with Cheetos. For me, it’s sweet things, like ice cream and cookies. Like Jimmy Fallon’s new ice cream by Ben & Jerry’s, which has potato chips dipped in chocolate folded into the ice cream.
4. They push each other to be better.
James: What are the most challenging and most rewarding parts about working with your sibling?
Michael: The biggest challenge is to not disappoint the other one. We share the same last name, so if any Voltaggio gets a bad review, it affects both of us. People hold us accountable as one unit.
Bryan: The great thing is that we are able to collaborate and push each other to be better. If I tell Michael about an idea, he’ll be the first one to tell me if it sucks. The people who work for you aren’t always so candid.
5. The home cook really can make the food in their book.
James: This book is targeted to professional chefs and home chefs alike. Tell me about how you see a home cook using this?
Bryan: If you don’t want to cook the whole dish, find something in the book that you can relate to. For example, take a sub recipe and pair it with another item that’s already in your repertoire.
Michael: I think the sub recipes in cookbooks are perhaps the most important part of the dishes. There is where you can find ideas that really impact your own cooking. If you take the time to really read the book, you’ll find content that really excites you.