Chef Bryan Voltaggio is at the forefront of a generation of chefs who are reinventing American cooking through a commitment to farm-to-table cuisine. Since opening VOLT in his native Frederick, MD, Voltaggio's cuisine has earned him many accolades, including being nominated for a coveted James Beard Award as Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in 2010 and being named Chef of the Year by both the Washington, D.C.- based nonprofit Share Our Strength and the Restaurant Association of Maryland that same year. He was also a finalist on the sixth season of Bravo TV's hit show "Top Chef" in 2009.
Voltaggio's passion for this style of cooking was fostered throughout his childhood in Frederick County, where meals often included produce harvested from the family garden. "I baled hay and pulled corn," he says. "I can remember when the neighbors would all gather at my parents' house and we'd shuck corn and make it into creamed corn. Those are the things that impacted me on the importance of food."
Already committed to a career in cooking early in his teens, Voltaggio served as sous chef and executive chef at two regional hotel restaurants by the age of 20. Aware of his need for more formal training, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, during which time he also cooked at the highly acclaimed Hamilton Inn in nearby Millerton.
Upon graduation, he staged at several restaurants in Manhattan, including Chef Charlie Palmer's Aureole, where Voltaggio worked his way up to become the restaurant's sous chef. "Charlie Palmer provided me with the professional and practical experiences that fast tracked my career," Voltaggio says of his mentor. Several years later, and after a brief, yet informative stage at the Michelin three-star Pic restaurant in Valence, France, Voltaggio returned to assist Palmer as executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, D.C.
Following nine successful years with Palmer, Voltaggio embarked on his dream of opening his own restaurant. VOLT opened in 2008, allowing him to bring his cooking philosophies and signature preparations to fruition, characterizing his modern American cuisine as "ophisticated dishes offering classic flavor combinations that are created using fundamental and innovative techniques."
His menus for VOLT are additionally driven by fresh, seasonal offerings, and the chef is an advocate for meats, seafood, and produce that are locally sourced, sustainable, and organic. "Through our choice of ingredients, we become engaged in more than creating a great dining experience, but in supporting local agriculture," he notes.
In addition, Voltaggio collaborated with the internationally renowned, Frederick- based Flying Dog Brewery in spring 2011 to create Backyard Ale, complete with the signature illustrated label bearing the chef's portrait. He is also using his television experience to begin hosting Maryland Public Television's "Obsessed with Everything Food."
He and his acclaimed chef brother, Michael, have also begun a partnership with Williams Sonoma in which they work together to bring professional culinary techniques into the home kitchen through various videos and products. In October 2011, they released cookbook titled - VOLT ink.
Voltaggio, 36, and his wife, Jennifer, live in Frederick with their son, Thacher and daughter, Piper.