3 From Md. To Compete On Bravo's 'Top Chef'

July 09, 2009|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,elizabeth.large@baltsun.com

Chefs from Maryland are finally getting the recognition they deserve - at least as far as reality TV is concerned.

The 17 contestants on the next season of Bravo's popular Top Chef include three from the Old Line State. Jesse Sandlin, 30, has been executive chef of Abacrombie Fine Food & Dining in Baltimore; and Bryan Voltaggio, 33, is chef/partner of the relatively new but already acclaimed Volt in Frederick.

Bryan's brother, Michael Voltaggio, 30, is also one of the contestants. He considers Frederick his hometown but last worked as chef de cuisine at Jose Andres's Bazaar in Los Angeles. He left in April.

It's the first time two siblings have competed on the show.

"I think we were both shocked we got on," said Bryan. "It was great to be together. We had a lot of fun."

He admits it was difficult to keep his role a secret, particularly as Volt opened only last year.

"That was an added stress. We've been looking forward to the day when we could say we weren't on a desert island for six weeks."

Bryan, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, worked under well-known chef Charlie Palmer. His brother trained at the Greenbrier Hotel in its culinary apprenticeship program.

Bryan described his focus as on local, organic and sustainable ingredients, while Michael puts more emphasis on modern techniques than he does.

Sandlin, who is self-taught, is known for her imaginative dishes using seasonal foods. Reviews of Abacrombie, a small upscale restaurant, have been overwhelmingly positive in the year and a half she has been running the kitchen.

Last year, another Maryland chef, Jill Snyder, competed on season five of the Bravo reality show. At the time she worked as executive chef of the Red Maple in Mount Vernon, but has since left. Snyder was eliminated in the second episode when judges turned thumbs down on her ostrich-egg quiche.

The sixth season of Top Che f takes place in Las Vegas. It premieres Aug. 26. The winning chef will receive $100,000 as well as $100,000 worth of merchandise from Macy's. He or she will also be featured in Food & Wine magazine.

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