'Top Chef Masters', 'Top Chef' and Bryan Voltaggio: Two shows, one chef

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Bryan Voltaggio chats about returning to Bravo's "Top Chef Masters," which begins its fifth season Wednesday, July 24, while driving to one of his four restaurants.

He's been in transit a lot, lately. In season opener, the chefs may drive or sky-dive to a locale.

From there, it gets tougher. Jumping from a plane is one thing, but trying to fillet meat with a butter knife and without sous chefs may be more of a challenge.

Voltaggio is the first chef to compete on "Top Chef" and "Top Chef Masters." When not at one of his restaurants or on a show, Voltaggio volunteers to feed schoolchildren.

Married to his high-school sweetheart, Voltaggio's third child was due a couple of weeks after this interview. In the midst of all of this, he reflects on why he's returning to the show.

"What drew me to 'Masters' is I felt it was a point in my career that I have become more in the role of a mentor," Voltaggio tells Zap2it.

It says a lot about the man's humility that he seems embarrassed here, not wanting to seem as if he is putting himself above others.

"I hate to say, 'taking on role of mentor,' " he says. "I try to take on that role and be an example for others -- get them involved in community-based projects where they can fulfill their career with more than a paycheck."

Despite making the executive decisions for the restaurants, Voltaggio sometimes longs for a more basic job. "The one thing I miss the most is being a line cook," he says. "I love the rush of the service. I love when you are responsible for one particular station."
Photo/Video credit: Bravo