Bravotv.com: Charlie Palmer as guest judge: What was that like for you?
The first thing that was on my mind was the fact that the other chefs all know that both Michael and I worked for him. I was concerned that the chefs might be indifferent about the judging. That, however, was motivation for me to be sure that I brought my best game. I also wanted to be sure that I did not let my Chef down. I worked for him for almost 10 years; he gave me plenty of opportunity to grow in my career. He gave me the tools, inspiration, and confidence to open my first restaurant, VOLT. Having all of that on your mind also made me pretty nervous during those challenges.
Bravotv.com: You said you thought Michael thought Charlie didn’t like him — why do you think that is?
Michael has always has said that. I think it is a little of the sibling rivalry showing. Michael worked for Charlie at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. Michael's style is a bit different than Charlie's so I know that they had many discussions about menus. There may have even been a "Hey, why don't you be a little more like Bryan?" every once in a while. However, Michael may be reading this for the first time, there were plenty of compliments from Charlie regarding the work Michael did in Healdsburg. I heard it a lot when he came to town in D.C. Michael is a good cook and Charlie saw that in him. Michael is just pretty stubborn sometimes and Charlie does not put up with a lot of crap. That can also sometimes create great things; differences of opinion breeds ideas. Hey, a Michelin star was awarded. Not to speak for Charlie, but I am sure he is proud to see both Michael and I here and where we have gone with our careers.
Bravotv.com: Pigs and pinot — how comfortable are you with pairing? Why did you choose the pinot you did? Michael shook his head at your choice; why did he do that?
I am very comfortable pairing wine and food. I had the opportunity when opening Charlie Palmer Steak D.C. to work with Keith Goldston. He is one of few Master Sommeliers in the country and we worked together on many dinners featuring wine makers where we paired multi-course menus. I am a student of wine as well. I spend a good amount of time researching, if you know what I mean. At my restaurant wine plays as much into our menus as the food; both have equal importance and are respected as so. So when we sit down to plan the Kitchen Menu where we pair beverages we put a lot of thought into the process. My Sommelier Neil Dundee has a knack for finding both fun and very food-friendly wines. We even keep a somewhat regular after-service blind tasting challenge between the two of us. Keeps us in tune and also sometimes lightens one or the other's wallet!