Bryan, his wife Jennifer and their son Thacher relax in their stylish living room.
Bryan and Thacher make homemade hot chocolate.
The dining area off the kitchen features a George Nelson pendant and vintage table and chairs.
An antique Asian chest is a focal point in the dining room.

Bryan Voltaggio

A calm and steady culinary tour de force, Bryan Voltaggio focuses on perfection at his acclaimed Frederick restaurant, Volt.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010

It’s Monday, Bryan Voltaggio’s day off. But with a photo shoot taking over his living room, two-year-old son Thacher begging him to ride skateboards and live lobsters to pick up at Dulles, he can hardly kick back.

The Culinary Institute of America grad spent nine years developing his technique with chef Charlie Palmer at Palmer’s New York, Las Vegas and DC restaurants. Then he and his wife Jennifer, a graphic designer, returned to their hometown of Frederick, where Bryan opened Volt to critical acclaim in 2008.

In their Urbana, Maryland, townhouse, Jennifer designated the lower level as the “man cave,” which Bryan outfitted with a rear-projection TV, Wii, PlayStation and two dartboards, one for himself and one for Thacher. Jennifer, meanwhile, took the lead on the main level, furnishing the spaces in a clean, retro-chic style.

On the rare occasion that he is home in time to cook, Voltaggio keeps it simple, making pizza or pasta or grilling chicken or hanger steak. Eventually, he would like a larger kitchen with an induction cooktop (safer and more energy-efficient than gas), multiple dishwashers and open niches for easy storage. “As a chef,” he says, “I like to have everything at my fingertips.”

CAN’T COOK WITHOUT
Porsche knives, All-Clad pots, pull-out faucet.

ALWAYS IN FRIDGE
Milk, butter, eggs, cream, herbs, celery. Plus stocks and sauces frozen in ice-cube trays for late-night, flash in-the-pan meals.

SIGNATURE DISH
“Making the most of whatever is in season, trying new techniques while it’s here and fresh. Right now, it’s mushrooms. Next week it will be something else.”

FUTURE PLANS
At press time, there is talk of Bryan and his brother, “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio, opening a restaurant together.

RECIPE

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Orange and Fennel Marshmallows
Serves 4

Hot Chocolate:
2 ½ cups 2-percent milk
7 oz. dark chocolate 72%, broken into pieces
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest
2 cinnamon sticks, cut in half
2 vanilla beans, scraped

Heat the milk to a simmer and stir in all ingredients except the dark chocolate. Let the flavors meld for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate by incorporating with a wooden spoon. Mix in the chocolate until totally combined. Strain the hot chocolate using a fine mesh strainer. Reserve hot until ready to serve.

Marshmallows:
1 cup sugar
3.5 ounces egg whites
½ cup water
20 gelatin sheets
¼ cup confectionary sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon fennel pollen
   
Bring water and sugar to a simmer. Cook the sugar until it reaches 129 degrees Celsius on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites to soft peak in a mixer. Bloom the gelatin in ice water. Warm the gelatin after bloomed in a microwave until melted and warm. Add the gelatin to the finished sugar and continue to mix. Then add the sugar to the egg whites. Flavor as desired at this point. Once the marshmallow starts to cool enough to handle and soft peaks form, remove from the mixer. Using a pastry bag or plastic bag with corner tip cut, pipe the marshmallows into desired shapes. Dust with the cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture.

Goat Cheese Orzo Gratin
Yield: 2 quarts

Goat Cheese Cream:
5 ounces butter
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons white pepper, ground
1/3  cup flour
2 cups heavy cream
32 ounces milk
6 ounces goat cheese

Make a roux with butter and flour. Add cream, milk, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and whisk in goat cheese. Cool and reserve.

Orzo:
1 lb. orzo pasta, blanched in salted boiling water
½ cup grated aged goat cheese (if not available use Pecorino Romano)

Preheat oven to 375F. Warm the pasta in the goat cheese cream, divide into individual casserole dishes, top with the grated cheese. Bake until golden brown on top.

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