Known to most now as the "Top Chef" winner of the Bravo reality show’s sixth season, Michael Voltaggio spent the majority of his culinary career toiling away in relative obscurity. From his teen years on, Voltaggio had never made a dollar outside of the restaurant kitchen. And it’s only recently that the cameras started showing up. But fame was never the goal for Voltaggio; as a young chef, and still today, Voltaggio has always been in it for the food.
And he’s followed that path wherever it took him. After an apprenticeship under Certified Master Chef Peter Timmins at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, from which he graduated with a gold medal at the age of 21, Voltaggio moved on to become sous chef of banquet dining at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. Since then, this top chef has worked in some of the country’s top kitchens, including Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, California, where he earned the restaurant a Michelin star and worked in close collaboration with Palmer.
It was only from his position as executive chef of The Bazaar by José Andrés that Voltaggio made the leap to television with his appearance on Top Chef. Since then, and despite the dizzying accolades and attention that accompany any televised win, Voltaggio has kept his focus on the food, rather than the limelight.
As executive chef at The Dining Room, Voltaggio emphasized seasonality with a blend of classical and modern technique, yielding an incomparable take on new American cuisine. It was no surprise that he was named a StarChefs.com LA-San Diego Rising Star in early 2010. Voltaggio then split ways with The Dining Room to pursue his own project, an ambitious culinary ode to American cuisine, with a focus on the cultures of Los Angeles, Ink.