Friends Drift Inn – Real Life and Chefs
By Joyce Pinson for the Appalachian News Express
Two Chefs, Fifteen Minutes and No Bourbon
You could hear Rhoda and my pointy toed shoes clip, clip, clipping down the blue and white tiled corridor as security escorted us and my editor, Jerry Boggs back for an exclusive interview with Top Chefs Bryan and Michael Voltaggio at the conclusion of the Kentucky Proud The Incredible Food Show.
I do not like to interview….what I like is a conversation; a conversation shared over an hour of time. Bourbon should be involved.
I don’t always get what we want. I had fifteen minutes….fifteen minutes with both of them TOGETHER. I had to talk fast and listen faster. I work with the cards I am dealt. But short robotic interviews….as a rule lack depth and lack soul. Besides that they put my girdle in a twist.
But there are exceptions to every rule, and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio love flaunting the rules. Their culinary style combines local seasonal ingredients with a hat full of magic, and a pinch of weird science. They are at once modern and hip; yet old fashioned and unpretentious – like a good pair of jeans. They have just completed the second presentation at The Incredible Food Show where they debuted their Volt Ink Recipes Stories Brothers Bryan Voltaggio and Michael Voltaggio Cookbook.
Bryan made his way into the room first and walked directly to my table. He smiled and looked me squarely in the bifocals. I like that about a man.
I handed him my card, and we got down to the business at hand. The clock was ticking. Bryan listened carefully as I asked questions. He would gently nod, consider what he had to say then deliver a response that was surprisingly candid and sincere. If I could sum up chef Bryan in one word it would be “confident”.
Bryan speaks firmly about his past career, proud in the fact he was successful before Top Chef. He speaks of keeping focused; the importance of family, the importance of having a good team. He looks to the future with a vision he knows where he wants to be and how he intends to get there.
From the corner of his eye, Bryan sees Michael enter the room. His shoulders relax. He takes a breathe and continues the conversation.
Michael strides to the table, glances sideways at his brother…..a cryptic grin passes between them. Michael takes Bryan’s Ale-8 off the table and tilts it up. Bryan shrugs, smiles and asks simply “Now where were we?”
Michael jumps in. His energy bounces of the walls. He speaks with his hands. His passion for food, for the power of food…..it exudes from his every pore. He lights up when I ask him about his time at the Greenbrier in West Virginia. His comments on Appalachia knocked me out of my pointy toed shoes.
I like this man who understands what a woman like me can offer…..biscuits and gravy.
Chef Michael has restlessness about him…and wistfulness too. It’s like an artist who paints a picture and the admirer thinks it is done. But the artist, he’s not so sure. Should there be more detail, should the palette be changed, should the composition be more centered or askew? It’s that intense focus on details that gives chef Michael Voltaggio an edgy spark.
Bryan and Michael….so different yet so alike. My what their momma must have went through!
The dynamics are amusing to watch. There’s the way they stand.
There are the looks they exchange.
There is a trust and a teamwork that brought the talking side of the interview to a good conclusion with six minutes to spare. I am amazed…but pleased.
I chatted with Bryan as Rhoda and Jerry set the shots. We laughed about the tatoos. In a few snaps we had our photos and the boys were on their way. By the time you read this, they will probably just be going to bed after a long night of celebrating the release of their book Volt Ink Recipes Stories Brothers Bryan Voltaggio and Michael Voltaggio in Fredrick Maryland. Watch of the #Voltink hashtag if you are on twitter.
Fifteen minutes was just not enough time….but the boys are young and I am tenacious. I bet we’ll cross paths again. Maybe the next time we can share some cornbread, soup beans and a sip of Kentucky’s finest.
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