Bryan Voltaggio has become one of the most recognized and influential chefs in contemporary American cooking. Starting with VOLT—his flagship, seasonally driven restaurant in his hometown of Frederick, MD—Voltaggio has delivered an electric shock of culinary innovation to the Chesapeake region, which he loves for its rich culinary history and access to high-quality ingredients. “I grew up here, so I feel like I have a responsibility to this region,” he says. “With each restaurant I open, I hope to reach new audience and show them that good food and the bounty of what the region has to offer very much go hand in hand.” His cooking style is in service to the local products he uses, and his dedication is evident across all of his projects: VOLT, which expresses local ingredients through the lens of innovative technique; Range in Washington, D.C., which trumpets the artisan food movement by concentrating focus on such elements as bread baking, charcuterie, pizza, and wood-fire cooking; Aggio, in D.C. and Baltimore, which tips its hat to the Mid-Atlantic region’s rich Italian-American heritage; Family Meal in Frederick, Baltimore, and soon to be Ashburn and Richmond, VA, which serves updates on home-cooked staples, and Lunchbox, a fast-cbsual sandwich concept. His empire continues to grow this year, as Voltaggio gets ready to open two more Family Meal restaurants in Virginia. The chef’s passion for cooking was already cemented at a young age, having grown up in an Italian-American family. He 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. He ascended to the top of the fine-dining world during a nine-year run as executive under Charlie Palmer at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, D.C. Voltaggio has been a finalist on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” as well as “Top Chef Masters”—the first contestant to compete on both shows—during which he raised funds for Share Our Strength, a charity he avidly supports throughout the year. The James Beard Foundation Award recognized VOLT in 2009 as a finalist for “Best New Restaurant.” In 2011, Voltaggio and his brother, Michael Voltaggio of L.A.’s INK, co-authored the cookbook, Volt.INK; his second cookbook will be released in the fall 2014. Even with the recognition that has come with television, cookbook publishing, and restaurant expansion, Voltaggio’s goals for the future remain true to the reason he began cooking as a teenager in the first place. “I love to make people happy,” he says. “I’m measuring success by looking at the opportunities to provide more for my community.” Voltaggio and his wife, Jennifer, live in Frederick with their son, Thacher, and two daughters, Piper and Ever.
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