Michael Voltaggio

Chef, Restaurateur

Los Angeles

Taking inspiration from his older chef brother, Michael Voltaggio stepped into the kitchen when he was 15 and hasn’t looked back since. After his formal training at the prestigious Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship program, Voltaggio flew south to The Ritz-Carlton, Naples to learn from chef Arnaud Berthelier. Honing his culinary skills and finding his own style, Voltaggio went to the West Coast to esteemed kitchens such as Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, The Bazaar by José Andrés and The Dining Room at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa. But his success doesn’t stop there — in 2009, Voltaggio won Bravo TV’s hit show Top Chef and went on to open his popular West Hollywood restaurant, Ink, in 2010. In 2011, he debuted his sandwich shop, ink.sack, a concept that opened in LAX’s new international terminal in October 2013.

  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What would Michael Voltaggio serve at his ultimate dinner party?

    I think I would like to have a wood-burning oven outside somewhere and have as many different ingredients as possible. [I’d] go to the farmers market and get a bunch of vegetables and a whole fish. I like that piece of equipment, that oven, because: A. the flavor that you get around wood is delicious, but B. you can just put anything in there.

    I had mussels the other day that were roasted in an oven, and to be honest with you, I’d never had mussels roasted in an oven before. I’ve had them always sautéed. There was something about how the shells smoked a little bit in the oven and gave the mussels a different flavor.

    I’m really into wood oven anything. So I’d just say a wood oven surrounded by a lot of different ingredients and a bunch of people kind of just throwing them in and making different things out of them.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What does Michael Voltaggio wear when he travels?

    James Perse sweatpants and slip-on Vans tennis shoes. Every time I go to an airport, I always wear my Vans slip-ons because they’re easy to take on and off.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    Who is Michael Voltaggio’s favorite traveling companion?

    Honestly, I like to travel alone. I really like to travel by myself. You’re on your own schedule. You’re not waiting for anyone. You’re going through security by yourself. It’s relaxing.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What shops does Michael Voltaggio visit when he travels?

    Definitely hit up local markets. If there’s outdoor bazaars — in the Middle East they call them suqs and everywhere you go, everything has a different name — but those sort of outdoor [markets]. I guess the touristy-type ones, but when you’re in a different country, it doesn’t seem as touristy. I guess when you come to L.A., you would go to the pier or the boardwalk in Venice. But when you’re another country, the outdoor-type places, those are the ones I like to go to most.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What does Michael Voltaggio always bring home from his travels?

    Tattoos. When I travel, I usually come home with one or two, depending on the city that I’m in, if I feel safe enough.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What does Michael Voltaggio always travel with?

    Music, definitely. I think when you go to a country where the language is different, the sounds are different and everything’s different, I think there’s a sense of comfort when you have your music with you. So for instance, on the streets of Mumbai, when it got a little overwhelming, I just put on my headphones and listened to music. It’s no different from when I’m at work — we don’t listen to music at work — but when things get chaotic during service and all that sort of stuff with the restaurants, I always kind of sing to myself. There’s just a sense of comfort I think when you have your music collection with you.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What is Michael Voltaggio’s favorite airline?

    Definitely Virgin America, hands down, for domestic travel. For international travel, I love Emirates.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What does Michael Voltaggio love most about hotels?

    I think it’s the ability to relax. For me, the only time I can really sleep is when I’m traveling. The beds, the little touches that are in hotels, I mean, I have them at my house, too; they’re just not the same. When you’re at a hotel, it just feels better. I like hotels that have good spas. I like to go to a spa, which if I told my friends that, they’d probably make fun of me. I like to be taken care of and I think everybody likes to be taken care of. But for me it’s a treat because all of my travel is associated with my work, so for me it’s kind of a reward for how hard I work.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What are Michael Voltaggio’s favorite hotels?

    It depends on where I am. One hotel I really liked, last year I went to the Sonoma Mission Inn. That’s up, obviously, in Sonoma. It had some cool touches to it. Smaller boutique hotels, I really enjoy. That one, you had a backyard — you had your little villa or room, but you had a backyard. And in your backyard, you had a shower and a bed. It has this sort of indoor-outdoor feel to it.

    I like old hotels, too. When I was in Mumbai, I stayed at the Taj; but I stayed in the older side of it. I like being a part of history — I’m kind of weird in that regard. But I also like nice hotels, I guess. I love traveling, and I love sleeping in hotels. There are times when I’ll stay in a hotel in L.A. even though I live here. I’ll drive down to Orange County and stay at the Montage just because I love the smell of the sheets and the pillows — I love hotels.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What are Michael Voltaggio’s favorite restaurants?

    The obvious ones like Noma. But there was one called Manfreds that I went to. That was really good. These guys have restaurants, one is Manfreds and across the street is Relae — I believe they own both of them. Manfreds is a more casual version, but it’s like a few guys in the kitchen. Basically, the kitchen is kind of right there where you’re eating, so it’s like going to a little wine bar. Most of the wines are indigenous to that area, so they have that orange wine quality, that oxidized, homemade kind of feel to them. The food was really delicious.

    Everywhere I go, that’s what I do — I go out to eat. For me, it’s all the restaurants that I go to. I’ve only traveled for work; I’ve never actually taken a vacation. I’ve been all over the world, but every trip I’ve taken I can pretty much link to an event or something work related that I had to do to be there. So when I went on these trips, I was eating.

    It’s kind of the obvious thing to say, but when I go to a different country, I definitely want to experience the culture of that country; so I certainly try to eat the food that best represents the area where I am. But then again, when I was in Mexico — I don’t remember the name of the restaurant — we went to their version of an American bar in Ensenada. I was almost embarrassed because their chicken wings and their sliders — that type of food that we think of here as something we wouldn’t eat — were better than what we do here. Fresh chicken wings — imagine getting a chicken wing that you know came from a chicken on a farm that was really close by. It was just delicious.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What are Michael Voltaggio’s favorite cities to visit?

    Most recently, this past year I traveled a lot. I was in Mumbai; I was in Copenhagen. But the one that stuck out, definitely, was when I was down in Mexico — more specifically near Ensenada and the wine country that’s starting to develop down there. I had a really good trip. There’s this area, the Valle de Guadalupe, where they’re starting this kind of really small sort of wine community. You’re eating breakfast, and the cheese came from the cow that’s right out back. There’s this food culture developing down there in Mexico that’s just so untapped and undiscovered right now. That was one of my favorite trips last year. That city is so unbelievable.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Michael Voltaggio answered the question: Michael Voltaggio

    What is Michael Voltaggio doing in 2013?

    Quite a bit actually — we’re launching our sandwich concept, ink.sack, at LAX. That will be in the international terminal, the new Tom Bradley terminal that’s being built right now. We also are working on another restaurant concept; but I can’t really talk too much about that. I would say this year we should have another full-service restaurant open, as well. I want to try to stay in L.A. as much as possible as I grow. I find that I like being present in my restaurants. In a perfect world, I would be able to walk or ride a bike to every single restaurant.