As for the choice in Pinot, when working for Charlie, I was introduced to Rochioli wines on the list in D.C. The list was all 50 states so there was a heavy concentration in California wine. So when I saw the Pinots I was very comfortable in the flavor profiles of most. For example Mischief and Mayhem is listed as a vertical on my list at VOLT, so I was familiar with that wine as well as most of the others. Rochioli however is very highly allocated so it was not on my list at the time. Proud to say it does now! So I went with a familiar wine that I also never get the chance to drink anymore!
I can answer the last part of the question pretty easily. Tom Rochioli and Charlie are friends, pretty much neighbors in Healdsburg. Tom has even been Charlie's boys' baseball coach as I remember. But keep in mind, Michael wanted that wine too. He just did not get the first choice!
Bravotv.com: Everyone is just sooo anti-Robin at this point, but you seem to stay out of it. What was your relationship like with her?
I came here to cook is my position behind my behavior with the other chefs and the challenges. In my kitchen I don't let personal feelings get in the way of my goals and the goals of my team. Why would I change that now? I also believe that all of the chefs on this season deserve to be here. The experience levels are very different amongst the group; some push the envelope and don't succeed, some play it safe and stay under the radar. That's the game and I see a few of the chefs letting that part overwhelm them and it fuels confrontation. My relationship with Robin was good. I do respect her for her strength in overcoming her illness and keeping in under her control. It takes a lot of a person to do that. She should be proud of what she has accomplished so far. I do, however, know we have completely different views when it comes to cuisine, but that only makes our food different, not better or worse.
Bravotv.com: Your brother said his food is riskier than yours — what’s your take on it?
Michael's food is different in some aspects yet similar in others. I believe we both have a great handle on fundamental technique. We are both classically trained and have worked in similar style kitchens during our careers. Michael uses the term risky. I don't believe that is the best way to describe the differences. Michael for example in the dessert challenge used flavors that did not seem to fit in with the challenge. His dish was great, I tried the ponzu and he dit it spot-on, really well balanced. I don't call that risky. I also know how to make a great ponzu. I think more into the guest's experience and sometimes leave my personal preferences off the menu. That could be the differentiation between our styles.
Bravotv.com: Michael said he knows exactly what buttons to push with you and Kevin thinks Michael manipulates you — would you agree?
We know how to push each other's buttons. He just brought it up first. Remember, we have known each other for 30 years! Kevin's impression of our relationship is a little misguided. Michael and I support each other in all aspects of our careers and our personal lives. We are friends before brothers. Like I said about Charlie and Michael's relationship, sometimes opposite views foster more creativity, makes you think harder about the topic or issue. Just because we may have different views on things and Michael may express his opinions more openly does not necessarily mean I agree and or take his advice. I'm simply more reserved, take it all in, then process my own decisions. Anyway, why is Kevin so caught up in what we're doing?