The kitchen in Bryan Voltaggio’s previous home was small. It had an electric oven, bisque-colored appliances and such a dearth of cabinet space that most of his cooking equipment was stored in a free-standing cabinet in another room.
The kitchen in his home today? Well, it’s much different.
Earlier this year, Voltaggio, 35, moved his family of four to a five-bedroom house just down the road in Frederick. Not surprisingly, the kitchen was one of the main attractions for the chef.
“I like that it feels like a professional kitchen environment,” says Voltaggio, “and we have space to entertain a lot of people.”
A spacious, 20-by-20-foot room houses multiple rows of dark wood cabinets, granite countertops, a walk-in pantry, a wet bar, a granite-topped center island and stainless-steel appliances, including the high-tech Samsung refrigerator that Voltaggio and his brother, Michael, can be seen pitching in a recent television commercial.
Adjacent and open to the kitchen is a 21-by-11-foot addition, which the previous owners used as a sunroom. But the Voltaggios consider it an additional dining area. A 77-inch white oak table sits in the center, and a wine refrigerator stands nearby.
With the ample space, Voltaggio now has more than enough room to house all of his favorite kitchen “toys,” as he calls them, including a Vitamix blender (an investment he highly recommends), a Delonghi espresso machine (a gift from his brother), a Breville toaster oven and, the most recent addition, an Acrobaleno pasta extruder (an extremely fancy pasta maker).
The extra room also makes it easier for him to do something else he loves: cook with his 4-year-old son.
“Thatcher likes to cook more than he likes to eat,” says Voltaggio. “Sometimes I’ll come home and there will be carrot peels on the counter. He won’t eat the carrots, but he’ll peel them.”
To foster his son’s interest in food, Voltaggio includes Thatcher in meal prep.
“Kids love Play-Doh, so why not give them pasta dough?” he says. “Their eating habits will be better if you cook with them.”
Voltaggio says he cooks at home less than one would think. But when he does, it’s typically for crowds. For last month’s Super Bowl, he and his wife, Jennifer, hosted 50 people.
Cooking for large crowds has become second nature to Voltaggio, whose Frederick restaurant Volt has become a popular, hard-to-get-a-reservation-for destination. Besides his cooking (he was recently nominated for a James Beard Award: best chef, Mid-Atlantic), the restaurant’s high profile can be attributed to his appearance on “Top Chef” seven months after Volt opened in 2008.
“I’m glad I did ‘Top Chef,’ ” he says. “I definitely enjoyed the experience, and I can’t deny we are busier because of it. But I was asked to do All-Stars, and I declined because I want to stay in the restaurant. . . . I want to stay close to the stove.”
Back in his home kitchen, Voltaggio is planning a few minor tweaks. He’d like to remove the island and replace it with a U-shaped or L-shaped cookspace. He wants to add a wine cellar in the basement, replace the double oven and microwave, swap out the gas range with an induction cooktop and, maybe, change the ceramic tile backsplash.
He also put something on his wish list.
“I look forward to the day they start selling commercial-grade appliances that have color,” he said. “I would get them, but I wouldn’t get the bisque.”