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July 23, 2014

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Top Chef’ Countdown, Day 1: Brotherly love

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Justin Stephens / BravoTV

Bryan Voltaggio, 33, will be going up against 16 chefs on Top Chef: Las Vegas, including his younger brother, Michael, 30.

In preparation for the Top Chef: Las Vegas season premiere at 9 p.m. Wednesday, we’ve been counting down with daily musings on the show, its competitors and topics related to the Bravo phenomenon. Today, we take on two of the new season's chef'testants who's connection goes way beyond the kitchen.

First there were co-workers; then there were girlfriends; now, Top Chef: Las Vegas has a new pair competing for top prize: the Voltaggio brothers.

Michael and Bryan Voltaggio have been cast side-by-side on the sixth season of Bravo’s hit reality cooking competition. But instead of playing up the supportive side of their relationship a la couple Zoi Antonitsas and Jennifer Biesty in Season Four, Bravo is emphasizing the good-natured sibling rivalry between the brothers. They even put the pair in the same room during filming. Just like home, right?

Let’s meet the boys:

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Michael Voltaggio recently departed uber-hip L.A. restaurant Bazaar by Jose Andres for the Dining Room at the Langham Huntington.

Michael Voltaggio: The younger of the brothers, 30-year-old Michael hasn’t let Bryan leave him far behind. Rather, it’s Michael who’s farthest from home, leaving Maryland for Naples, Fla. (where he won a AAA 5 Diamond award while serving as chef de cuisine at the Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton) and decamping for California, where he earned a Michelin Star while serving as chef de cuisine at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. Since then he’s taken his skill at European techniques and modern flavors to L.A.’s über-hot Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, where he got a nod from the James Beard Foundation as a finalist in the Best New Restaurant category. Finally, just last month Voltaggio the younger packed his knives once again, this time to take over the kitchen of the Dining Room at the Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa as chef de cuisine.

But Michael’s resume isn’t the only reason, you’ll be seeing him on Top Chef this season. At the time of casting the competitive blond had not one, but two Top Chef vets working for him at Bazaar who helped talk him into the competition: Season 2-runner up and former Las Vegas local Marcel Vigneron and Season 3 winner Hung Huynh.

As far as his own goals for the season, Michael says he wants to bring “a new integrity” to the Bravo hit and “keep the show more about cooking, as opposed to a reality TV show.” Oh yea, and winning, of course.

Bryan Voltaggio: Three years older than Michael, Bryan helped his younger sibling get started in the restaurant business while serving as a sous chef at 18 years old. The elder Voltaggio found his career in the kitchen young and stuck with it, serving in high profile positions at regional hotel restaurants before he was even old enough to drink. After attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Bryan found his way to Charlie Palmer, and his career took a turn for the blessed. He worked for Palmer at Aureole, eventually taking on the position of sous chef, before taking a brief hiatus to work at three-star Michelin restaurant Pic in Valence, France. When he got back to the states, Bryan connected with Palmer once again, serving for nine years with the legendary chef before finally venturing out on his own as the chef/owner of modern American VOLT restaurant in his hometown of Frederick, Maryland.

“Local, sustainable” and “unique” are buzzwords in Bryan’s culinary vocabulary at VOLT, where he draws on local produce and products to create a menu that employs both modern and classic preparations.

And when it comes to having a fellow Voltaggio running around the kitchen on Top Chef: Las Vegas, Bryan seems enthusiastic. “This is the first time we’re going to cook professionally together in the kitchen for more than two or three days.”

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