Tag Archives: Top Chef

Voltaggio’s Monte Cristo Umami Burger


Michael Voltaggio's Monte Cristo Burger
Michael Voltaggio‘s Monte Cristo Burger is made with a beef patty, gruyere fondue, prosciutto and placed on, wait for it… a CUSTARD-SOAKED, DEEP-FRIED BUN. Then it’s topped with powdered sugar and served with a side of maple syrup. Too sweet? Actually, no. I found myself going back to the syrup again and again. The best part? $1 from each burger will go to the Los Angeles Mission!

NOTE: It’s available for a limited time only at Umami Burger (as of 1/28/14) so DON’T MISS IT!

From the press release:
“Michael Voltaggio is one of the best chefs in the nation,” said Adam Fleischman, Founder and Chairman of Umami Restaurant Group. “He’s changed the rules of fine dining in Los Angeles, making it pretty bad-ass.”

The winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Season 6, Michael Voltaggio was named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2013. His flagship restaurant, ink., was named GQ Magazine’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2012. Additionally, Voltaggio’s sandwich shop ink.sack has received widespread acclaim, most recently opening its second outlet inside Los Angeles International Airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Michael Voltaggio, Chef/Owner ink. & ink.sack said, “I wanted to make a burger that would hit the spot no matter if you’re craving something sweet or savory. This was a fun collaboration with Umami Burger and even better since $1 from every burger sold will benefit the LA Mission. They do a ton of good for people in need and this is a great way to give back.”



Filed under Eating Out, Little Bites

L.A. Chefs Volunteering at L.A. Food Bank!

Read all about it over at L.A. Bites Hunger!

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)


Whist Restaurant (view from lobby)

Back in January I was honored to host a wonderful Wild Game dinner by Chris Crary, the Chef de Cusine at Whist Restaurant in Santa Monica. Recently, I returned to taste (gratis) the current menu offered by Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo (Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern).

Like most of my friends (and family), I’m a big fan of small bites and sharing plates … ESPECIALLY in such a beautiful, relaxing (yet elegant) location.

My brother Greg (who recently moved here from Scotland) joined me for the incredible dinner and we so enjoyed spending some quality brother/sister time together. Needless to say, there was plenty of eye-rolling (it was so good!) and laughing at our table. Just sitting in the beautiful, outdoor dining room… we both appreciated every bit (and bite) of the Whist experience.

NOTE: A new menu will be available after July 9th (some new items have already been added), so go SOON to taste dishes below!

Crostini at Whist
Crostini Heaven (details below)

Crostini at Whist
Uni (Sea Urchin) Crostini, Sea Salt, Lemon & LARDO. Dungeness Crab Crostini w Yuzu Mayo.

Petrossian Caviar, Egg Yolk, Cucumber Dill Crostini at Whist Santa Monica
Petrossian Caviar, Egg Yolk, Cucumber Dill Crostini

Chicken Liver Pancetta Crostini at Whist Santa Monica
Chicken Liver Mousse, Pancetta Crostini

Dungeness Crab Crostini at Whist Santa Monica
Dungeness Crab Crostini w Yuzu Mayo

Roasted Beets
Roasted Beets, House-made Goat Ricotta, Grapes, Endive, Local Pistachios

Japanese Mackerel Escabeche
Japanese Mackerel Escabeche, Tapenade Crostini

Crispy Pork Terrine at Whist
Crispy Pork Terrine, Sour Cherries, Pickled Shallots, Mustard

Lamb Kefta Meatballs at Whist
Lamb Keft Meatballs, Orange, Pistachio, Yogurt. I don’t like lamb but my brother LOVED these.

Sweetbreads, Favas at Whist
Sweetbreads, Favas, Morels, Sherry

Cured Hamachi at Whist
Cured Hamachi, Rhubarb “Ponzu”, Cucumber, Radish, Celery

Torchio Pasta, Rabbit Ragu at Whist, Santa Monica
Torchio Pasta, Rabbit Ragu, Swiss Chard, Olives, Salami, Rosemary (+ extra truffles!)

Soy-Braised Short Ribs at Whist
Soy-Braised Short Ribs, Pickled Radishes + Asian Pear

Chili-Fried Chicken at Whist
Chili-Fried Chicken, Spring Vegetable Kimchee

Potato Gnocchi at Whist
Potato Gnocchi, Asparagus + Morels

Wild Black Sea Bass
Wild Black Sea Bass, Braised Ramps, Tom Yum Broth

Grilled Octopus
Grilled Octopus, Romesco, Potatoes, Charred Wild Leeks

Scallops at Whist
Scallops, Fennel, Celery, Treviso + Bottarga Salad, caper, Lemon + Basil Vinaigrette

Chocolate Tart, Whist
Chocolate Tart, Orange Sorbet

Ephemere Beer at Whist
Ephemere Beer on a warm evening

Rhubarb Tart, Whist
Rhubarb Tart, Walnut Crumble, Vanilla Ice Cream

My brother Greg, Whist Restaurant
My brother Greg. He loves FOOD almost as much as I do!

More photos on Flickr

Whist Restaurant
Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 260-7511

Dining Date: 6/19/12
Many thanks to Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary!

About Chef Tony DiSalvo

5 Questions for Tony DiSalvo by Betty Hallock, L.A. Times

Chris Crary’s Wild Game Dinner

Follow Tony DiSalvo on Twitter

Follow Chris Crary on Twitter

Whist Chefs on Twitter

Viceroy Hotel on Twitter


Filed under Eating Out, Hot Chefs

He’s Got Game.

Many thanks to all who came out to Whist Restaurant for Chef De Cuisine Chris Crary‘s special “Wild Game” dinner last week. It was a super fun gathering of carnivore loving pals (sorry vegans!), local chefs (who came to support) and of course Top Chef fans!

Each of his dishes were beautiful, delicious works of art, and I had a hard time deciding on my favorite game meat of the night. Congrats to Chris and his team, for executing the awesome menu.

Amuse: Octopus with Potato Gratin

Roasted Rabbit by Chris Crary
First Course: Roasted Rabbit, Carrot Panna Cotta, Thai Spices, Peanut Lime

Roasted Rabbit by Chris Crary
Tiny, Frenched Rabbit Lollipop

Venison Neck Loin
Second Course: Venison Neck & Loin, Coffee, Huckleberry Mustard, Crispy Shallot, Forest Herbs

Boar Belly
Third Course: Boar Belly, Root Vegetable Cassoulet, Truffle, Apple Ephemere (officially my favorite!)

Antelope Osso Buco
Fourth Course: Antelope Osso Buco, Pearled Barley, Acacia Honey, Gremolata, Goji Berry

Duck Egg Flan
Fifth Course: Duck Egg Flan, Wild Turkey, Cardamom Crumble, Cajeta Ice Cream

Chris Crary's Wild Game Menu
The Menu (click for larger)

Wonderful evening at Whist!
Such a fun dinner! Looking forward to MORE SOON!

Location: Whist Restaurant
1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
Reservations> (310) 260-7511

Price was $60 per person

Event Date: January 5th

All photos from the Wild Game Dinner on Flickr

Top Chef Texas

Follow @ChrisCrary on twitter

Follow @WhistChefs on twitter

Follow @ViceroySM on twitter

Check out photos from the evening: By Joann & Grace Park    By Nicole

Many thanks for the press!>> L.A. Times  |  KCET  |  GrubStreet  | Eater


Filed under Eating Out, Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Hot Chefs

ink sack

BEST SANDWICHES IN TOWN (ok, so these are my favorite sandwiches in town)…

Michael Voltaggio’s ink sack:

ink sack's Spicy Tuna
spicy tuna miso-cured albacore, sriracha mayo

ink sack's Cold Fried Chicken
cold fried chicken house-made ranch cheese, gindo’s spice of life

ink sack's Banh Mi
banh mi pork butt, pork belly, chicharrónes, pickled vegetables

ink sack's Spanish Godfather
the Jose Andres aka “the spanish godfather” serrano, chorizo, lomo, manchego

ink sack's CLT (Chicken Liver Mousse)
c.l.t. chicken liver mousse, curried chicken skin, lettuce, tomato

ink sack's Maple Pepper Turkey
maple-pepper turkey melt camembert, mustarda, arugula

ink sack's Beef Tongue Reuben
“reuben” corned beef tongue, appenzeller cheese, kraut, russian dressing

ink sack's Maryland Crab Chips
maryland crab chips

AJ on the line @ Voltaggio's ink sack
Checking on the ink sack kitchen on opening day! AJ Ramirez on the line, Animal’s Jon Shook on far right.

Ink Sack at Home
Water melon sriracha, lime & pineapple chile y lemon. Great as a side… or take home for cocktails later!

Voltaggio's ink sackAll my photos from ink sack

ink sack
8360 melrose avenue #107
los angeles, california 90069


Jonathan Gold on ink sack

All my Michael Voltaggio Photos on Flickr

Follow Michael Voltaggio on Twitter


Filed under Eating Out

Black Market Liquor Bar

PHOTOS: My first bite of Black Market Liquor Bar in Studio City

Black Market Shrimp
Peel & Eat Lemon Pepper Shrimp, Oranges, Crystal’s Aioli

Black Market Cocktails
Blackberry Cobbler: Genever, Blackberry, Lemon, Sugar

Red Hot and Bothered: Jalapeno-infused vodka, strawberry, blood orange, agave syrup and ginger beer

Black Market Fried Cauliflower
Fried Cauliflower, Lemon Aioli

Black Market Grits Collard Greens
Crispy Collard Greens, Benton’s Ham, Cheese Grits, Soft Egg

Black Market Mussels Fennel
Mussels, Fennel, Chili, Garlic Baguette

Black Market's Deep Fried Fluffer-nutter, Fresh Bananas
Deep Fried Fluffer-nutter, Fresh Bananas

Peter and I went early in the evening and we both enjoyed Chef Antonia Lofaso’s menu. Thankfully the new hotspot is just around the corner from our house!

Black MarketBlack Market Liquor Bar
11915 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 446-2533

Dining Date: 7/9/11

Read all about Black Market on LAist (by my friend Lindsay William-Ross)


Filed under Eating Out

Firenze Osteria

Bravo’s Top Chef is my very favorite cooking show, and is (in my humble opinion) the BEST chef competition on television. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to get to know a few of the “cheftestants” (links below) and most recently befriended the wonderfully CHARMING Chef Fabio Viviani via twitter.

Firenze Osteria is one of his two Southern California restaurants and is just five minutes away from my house. I’ve had so much fun getting to know Fabio during this current All-Stars season, and can’t wait to see what he’s doing next. I’m personally hoping for some sort of Italian Fusion Burger Bar (Top Chef fans will understand!).

A few of my favorite dishes at Firenze Osteria:

Crostino di Burrata @ Firenze Osteria
Dried Parmesan Bread, Burrata, Brown Butter Sage, Grilled Pancetta

Seared Ahi at Osteria Firenze
Tonno Ahi al Sesamo – Sesame Ahi Tuna Salad: Sesame Encrusted Ahi Tuna Steak, baby Greens, Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Carrots and Cherry Tomatoes, Balsamic Dressing

Pancetta Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp @ Firenze Osteria
Gamberoni in Camicia – Grilled Jumbo Shrimps: Pancetta Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp filled with Gorgonzola over Parmesan Polenta, Garlic Sautéed Spinach

Pan-fried Whitefish at Osteria Firenze
Pan-fried whitefish with fennel, cucumber and farrow slaw

Rib Eye Steak at Osteria Firenze
Bistecca di Bue – Rib Eye: 12 oz Prime Nebraska Rib Eye Steak, Roasted Asparagus & Lemon

Short Rib Ravioli at Osteria Firenze
Ravioli di Brasato – Braised Short Rib Ravioli: Braised Short Rib Ravioli, Melted Taleggio, Aged Moden

 Penne w Spicy Pork Belly at Osteria Firenze
Penne Amatriciana – Penne with Spicy Pork Belly and Onion: Caramelized Cured Pork Belly, Red Onion, White Wine, Tomato, Chilies and Shaved Pecorino Cheese

Desserts @ Firenze Osteria
Desserts! Panna Cotta: Baked Egg-Less Cream with Fresh Strawberries in a Sweet Balsamic Reduction | Limoncello Ricotta Cheesecake: Creamy Ricotta Cheese and Limoncello with a light Graham Cracker Crust | Flourless Chocolate Cake: Warm, Moist Individual Cake, Served with Vanilla Gelato, Chocolate Sauce and Coffee Cream

with 2 SWEETIES @ Firenze Osteria!
With Firenze Osteria Chef Ken Biffar and the fabulous Fabio Viviani

Firenze Osteria
4212 Lankershim Blvd
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
(818) 760-7081

Update> “Under $10” lunch menu

All my Firenze Osteria photos on Flickr

Dishes above shared with: Peter S, Brent V, Nelson C, Dave D, Lisa D, Susan S, Andrew L, Bob M, Paddy C.

Thank you Fabio, Jacopo, Lisa, Ken, Woodrow & Guido!

Top Chef Fabio Viviani (season five & six)

If you’re not familiar with Fabio, check out one of his hilarious video clips (he films himself while watching Top Chef & Tweeting)

Follow Chef Fabio Viviani on Twitter

Follow Firenze Osteria on Twitter

Follow Ken Biffar on Twitter

More Top Chef Photos:
With Chef Michael Voltaggio

With Chef Ludo Lefebvre

With Chef Marcel Vigneron

With Chef Alex Reznik

With Chef José Andrés

With judge Tom Colicchio

With judge Anthony Bourdain

With judge Eric Ripert

With Chef José Andrés

With Chef Rick Bayless

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Filed under Eating Out, Hot Chefs

The Yard

Sure wish I lived closer to the Yard in Santa Monica. I’m certain the gastropub would be my regular hangout, plus my good friend Ryan (he’s an awesome food photographer) is there practically every night!

A few of my tasty photos:

The Yard's Arancini
Arancini. Crispy risotto balls, spicy marinara

The Yard's Calamari
Paprika spiced calamari, roasted marinara, fried lemon

The Yard's Poutine
Poutine, skinny fries, brown gravy, cheese curds (Late Night Menu Only)

The Yard's Mac n Cheese
Mac n Cheese, Pancetta, Sauteed Market kale, crispy Bread Crumbs

The Yard Santa Monica
“Specials” Menu

The Yard Santa Monica
with my best friend Brent (just after he moved to L.A.)

The Yard Santa Monica
Peter and our good friend Julie

Dining date: 10/23/10

The Yard
119 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-6037

Jonathan Gold’s review of The Yard

Follow the Yard on Twitter

Follow Chef CJ Jacobson on Twitter

CJ on Top Chef (season 3)

Ryan Tanaka’s beautiful food & restaurant photos

Follow Ryan on Twitter

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Filed under Eating Out


Smoking GunLast week I attended a private cooking demonstration at Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills. Chef Michael Voltaggio and his awesome crew were on hand to whip up some delicious bites using modern cooking equipment, including a few devices I’ve only dreamt about having in my own kitchen.

Back in March 2009, during yet another exquisite meal at the Bazaar, Michael motioned me back to the open kitchen so I could watch him plate a new menu dish. On the counter sat a heavy slate plate with salmon (& cucumber “noodles”) under a clear glass dome. As I eagerly watched, Michael grabbed what looked like a laser price scanner and lifted the dome just a bit, then slipped in a small tube which filled the dome with smoke.

"Smoked" Salmon photo 1, MyLastBite.comBack at my table, the server lifted the dome and a gentle puff of smoke wafted under the lights. The flavors in the salmon were fantastic (yet subtle), especially since the fish was smoked just minutes before being served. That was my first experience with the handheld food smoker aka the “Smoking Gun”, which is made by PolyScience Innovative Culinary Technology.

At the Williams-Sonoma demo, Michael and his team touted the Smoking Gun as well as PolyScience’s Sous Vide Thermal Circulator. I didn’t see the Anti-Griddle (which quickly freezes items) on hand, but was thrilled to see that the Smoking Gun was for sale! After a few glasses of bubbly, Peter gladly bought me one… as well as the additional set of flavored wood chips. My niece and nephew had a BLAST smoking our entire dinner last week, and we were surprised how easy and well the gun worked.

Voltaggio and crew at Williams-Sonoma

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Foie Gras and Wagyu Shortrib Bahn Mi: Foie gras terrine with shortrib cooked sous vide, pickled daikon and carrot, fresh cilantro and jalapeno on mini french roll.

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Chef Michael Voltaggio cutting the Wagyu Shortrib

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Bacon, Egg and Cheese: Slow poached egg with bacon puree and aged white cheddar foam, garnished with mini chives

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Chef Cole Dickinson making the Bacon, Egg and Cheese (note the Thermal Circulator filled with eggs).

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Coconut Shrimp (Tom Kha): Poached and smoked shrimp skewered with pipettes filled with tom kha consomme, garnished with puffed wild rice and mini thai basil, lime zest

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Chef Klein De Bow making the Coconut Shrimp

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Lox, Bagel and Cream Cheese: Salmon smoked and cooked sous vide, cream cheese snow, red onion puree, bagel struesel, tomato heart, caper powder

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Chefs Klein De Bow and Adam Cole making the Lox, Bagel and Cream Cheese

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Love these “tomato hearts” for the Lox, Bagel and Cream Cheese

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Peaches and Burrata: Fresh market peaches with smoked burrata, wild arugula and aged balsamic air

Voltaggio @ Williams Sonoma
Chef Alexander J. Ramirez making the peaches and burrata

The Smoking Gun!

Smoking Gun
Unpacking the Smoking Gun (cooking dinner with my niece & nephew). I used my old steamer set for the smoking.

Smoking Gun
After reading directions

Smoking Gun
Lighting the Smoking Gun

Smoking Gun
Getting ready to test on tofu

Smoking Gun
Smoking Tofu: We (my niece Kindal above) tried all four wood chip flavors on the tofu (Cherrywood, Applewood, Hickory and Mesquite).

Smoking Gun
My nephew Chace, preparing to smoke grilled vegetables

Smoking Gun
Hickory and Mesquite for the grilled flank steak. The Smoking Gun was so easy to set up, and most of all… it was FUN!

All Photos Here

339 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 274-9127

Williams-Sonoma Event Date: Wed, 9/1/10

Purchase the Smoking Gun at Williams-Sonoma

Chef Voltaggio’s WebSite

Polyscience WebSite

The Anti-Griddle

The Thermal Immersion Circulator (for Sous Vide Cooking)

Follow Michael Voltaggio on Twitter

Follow Williams-Sonoma on Twitter

Follow PolyScience on Twitter

Video: Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie: Inventors (Philip Preston)

The Bazaar by José Andrés

Modern Cookery aka Molecular Gastronomy on MyLastBite


Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Hot Chefs, Molecular Cooking

Tat for Taste

Yet another reason why I adore Chef Michael Voltaggio? Because when he commits to a cause… he makes it permanent! He definitely went above and BEYOND by getting the Taste of the Nation, Share Our Strength logo TATTOOED on his leg last week!

Chef Michael Voltaggio
“Hey Jo… come meet me… I’m getting a new tattoo this morning.” (be right there Michael!)

Chef Michael Voltaggio
The filling-in looked PAINFUL!

Chef Michael Voltaggio
Tattoo Artist Jesse Exquivel

Chef Michael Voltaggio
“Tattoos are permanent… and if we’re not careful, childhood hunger could be a permanent thing too” ~ Chef Michael Voltaggio

Check out the video on E!

Taste of the Nation L.A.

Photos by Jo Stougaard 6/5/10 More on Flickr

More about Michael


Filed under Little Bites