I’ve watched every season of Bravo’s Top Chef since it began even though when you think about it, the show really shouldn’t work. You tune in weekly to watch chefs that you’ve never heard of, turn ingredients that you’ve never tasted, into dishes that you can’t sample. Yet each season I’ve learned a lot about food and cooking while being thoroughly entertained. So you can only imagine my excitement this season, when Bryan Voltaggio, Chef and co-owner of Volt, a restaurant in my town, was announced as a contestant. Finally a chef that I’ve not only heard of and met, but who’s work, I’ve tasted.
I met Bryan back in April of 2008. My friend Hilda Staples and he were opening their restaurant when Hilda graciously asked me to come with her as they sampled coffees from a local roaster in town to develop their signature blend. So sorry as I have no salacious gossip to spice up my post. The guy is as nice in person as he is on TV.
Shortly after Volt opened we went to dinner with our neighbors, Paula and Rich who are true foodies. They not only belong to a gourmet dinner club, but are extremely capable of whipping up gourmet meals at a moments notice.
Our dinner was excellent and even though I’ve had more fast food meals than gourmet meals in my lifetime, it was accessible to someone with a limited palate like mine. I ordered a food foreign to me (sweet breads) and because I dined with those in the know didn’t embarrass myself by ordering the hot pea soup (it was cold, who knew?). The service was extraordinary and Volt’s attention to detail in terms of food, wine, ambiance and decor is unmatched in my opinion.
Since the grand opening I’ve been there many times for drinks and unbelievable bar foods, their fabulous express lunch (that allows you to experience fine dining at the bargain price of $14.99) as well as lunch in the main dining room. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where you eat, you’re treated first class and able to experience a exquisite meal.
Last month I had this fabulous fish at the bar!
I wish I could tell you what it was, but Chef Voltaggio is so adept at keeping the menu seasonal, that by the time I finally got around to posting, he had already changed it for the fall. Suffice to say, I didn’t leave a morsel behind and my husband begged me not to embarrass him by licking my plate clean.
It’s great fun to watch Bryan kick ass each week but what I love more than anything is how humble the man is. A few weeks ago, when Joel Robuchon, France’s chef of the century, announced Bryan as the winner of the elimination challenge, he looked truly surprised. He doesn’t try to make exciting TV by badmouthing the other contestants or acting like a jackass – he simply shows up and cooks.
Tonight Chef Voltaggio will compete against the remaining 8 contestants (one of which is his brother, Michael Voltaggio) and if you haven’t been tuning in, I strongly recommend that you check it out. More importantly, consider checking out his restaurant in person. Volt is only an hour from both Baltimore and DC, located in Frederick, Maryland which received the prestigious Great American Main Street Award in 2005.
It’s destination dining at it’s finest. You’ll be glad that you made the trip.