Chef Michael Voltaggio has been in the kitchen since he was 15 years old. By 21, he had completed his formal training at the Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship Program. He was immediately hired to work at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, where he first immersed himself with what were considered unconventional techniques, enabling him to cook adventurously with increased precision and informing his signature style. Michael has helmed the kitchens for a number of esteemed chefs and restaurants, including Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, where he earned a Michelin star, and the Bazaar by José Andrés in Beverly Hills.
Voltaggio was a finalist for the James Beard Best New Restaurant award in 2000, the same year he also earned the title of Top Chef on Bravo TV's Emmy award-winning show. He has established a reputation for what critics heralded as "serious" food that is playful, visually stunning and flawlessly executed. ink. is Chef Michael Voltaggio's first signature restaurant, named Best New Restaurant of 2012 by GQ magazine. The name alludes to the idea of permanence, creating a lasting impression with flavors inspired by the myriad cultures that make up the city of Los Angeles. He also recently opened ink.sack, a sandwich shop a few doors down from ink., starring classic flavor profiles elevated by premium ingredients and refined techniques.
Q: Who or what inspired you to start cooking? What led you to culinary school?
A: I wanted to save money to get a car. I was able to get a job right away because my brother was a chef at the restaurant I wanted to work in, and my father ran security there. We got jobs there out of favors, and I really enjoyed it.
Q: Describe your cooking style.
A: I just don't have one. My cooking style is to continue to change my style and make it better, evolve it. It's hard to put a label on it because in the restaurant we pull from so many ethnicities and adapt different methods, old and new. My cooking style is evolution and history.