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Oceana Magazine Spring 2010: Chef's Corner: Chef Bryan Voltaggio

Chef Bryan Voltaggio earned national renown when he cooked his way to the finals of "Top Chef," ultimately finishing second to his brother Michael. But before television brought him fame, Voltaggio was already a restaurant industry veteran. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a sous chef and eventually executive chef under mentor Charlie Palmer in New York and Washington, D.C.

In 2008, Voltaggio realized his dream of opening his own restaurant with the debut of Volt in his hometown of Frederick, Maryland, an hour from the nation’s capital. At Volt, he serves modern American cuisine with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.

“Thankfully, you don't have to be an expert on the science behind this movement,” Voltaggio said. “We just have to choose to embrace it. By purchasing sustainable, local, and organic products we will prove there is a demand, lowering the costs for the growers, fisherman, and ranchers, recreating the food chain for our country.”

Volt’s menu changes to reflect fresh, seasonal ingredients, and sustainable seafood is an important part of the mix.

“I always tell my staff that my little restaurant can’t change the world, but if we help to spread the word and improve our knowledge and practices without compromising the quality of our cuisine, then we are doing our part,” Voltaggio said. “The guests who dine here may or may not notice, but I believe we are at the point where they should expect it.”

 

Farmed California White Sturgeon

with cauliflower, truffle, romanesco and Summer Creek Farm Yukon Gold potato broth

 

Serves four

 

For the Sturgeon

4 ea. 4 oz portions of white sturgeon

(see source)

4 tblsp. olive oil

2 cups water

1 cup salt

1.75 oz. sugar

1 lemon zested

2 sprigs thyme

5 black peppercorns

½ bay leaf

½ garlic clove smashed

 

Make a brine for the fish with the water, salt, sugar, lemon zest, herbs, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and strain.

Cool the brine then pour over the fish for 10 minutes. Remove the fish and vacuum pack with the olive oil. Preheat an immersion circulator to 57C. Cook the fish for about 12 minutes in the circulator, this depends on the thickness of the fillets.

 

For the Potatoes

24 parisienne cut Yukon Gold

potatoes (thin slices then cut into pieces)

¼ cup clarified butter

4 tblsp. whole butter

¼ cup vegetable stock

 

Vacuum pack the potatoes with the clarified butter after seasoning with salt and pepper, Cook in a combi oven set to steam and 190F for twenty minutes or until done. Cool quickly in an ice-water bath.

* Combi oven is a steaming oven. 

 

For the Potato Broth

1 qt . remaining potato trim from

parisienne cut potatoes

¼ cup diced proscuitto

½ onion diced

1 sprig thyme

1 qt fish fumet

 

Add the diced proscuitto to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Lightly brown the proscuitto add the onion, sweat until translucent. Add the aromatics and the stock. Stew the broth until all flavors have incorporated, strain the stock and reserve. Once it has started to cool, the fat should separate to the top of the broth. Using a spoon or ladle remove that fat and discard.

 

For the Potato Glass

1 peeled Idaho potato cut thin on slicer

¼ cup clarified butter

 

Cut eight potato slices into rectangles 4”X1½”. Season with salt and pepper, brush on clarified butter and place between two layers of parchment paper. Bake at 300F until crisp. Reserve in an airtight container or a dehydrator until ready to plate.

 

For the Truffle Puree

7 oz. vegetable stock

7 oz. truffles small diced

1.75 oz. minced shallot

1 tblsp. canola oil

 

Sweat the shallots in the oil, add the truffle, sweat for 5 minutes, add the stock, bring to a simmer. Puree and pass through a fine sieve. Reserve seven ounces for the truffle gel.

 

For the Truffle Gel

7 oz. truffle puree (see previous recipe)

½ tsp. gellan gum

 

For the Cauliflower Florets

16 purple cauliflower florets, blanched

16 white cauliflower florets, blanched

16 yellow cauliflower florets, blanched

1/4 cup butter fondue

 

Warm blanched cauliflower in the butter fondue, season with salt and pepper.

 

For the Cauliflower Puree

1 cup diced cauliflower florets

1 cup heavy cream

.5 gr xanthan gum

 

Heat the cauliflower with the cream. Stew until the cauliflower is tender enough to puree. Place the cauliflower and cream in a high-speed blender, puree with the xanthan gum and pass through a fine sieve, season with salt and pepper.

 

For the Garnish

16 battons of truffle to taste zhatar (combination of thyme, sesame and ground sumac)

8 plushes emerald crystal lettuce

 

Heat the cauliflower with the cream. Stew until the cauliflower is tender enough to puree. Place the cauliflower and cream in a high-speed blender, puree with the xanthan gum and pass through a fine sieve, season with salt and pepper.

 

For the Sauce

¼ cup minced truffle

2 tblsp. minced shallot

1 sprig thyme

¼ bay leaf

6 toasted peppercorns

¼ cup banyuls vinegar

½ cup veal demi glace

 

Reduce the shallots and truffle with the banyuls by on third. Warm the demi glace and evaporate for 30 minutes, add the aromatics. Skim the sauce while cooking. Strain the sauce and add the banyuls truffle reduction to taste. Add whole butter to the sauce as needed.

 

To serve:

Remove the sturgeon from the vacuum bag, place a spoon full of the cauliflower puree on the plate. Scatter the diced truffle gel, cauliflower in butter fondue and romanesco. Place the crystal lettuce and battons of truffle, season the white cauliflower florets with the zhatar. Place the potatoes and the potato glass, spoon the truffle reduction around.