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A star turn brightens up a Frederick kitchen

Through all the hot tempers on last season's Top Chef, Frederick-based contestant and runner-up Bryan Voltaggio distinguished himself by stepping away from the drama and keeping his game face on.

Now he's back in the kitchen at Volt, perfecting that balance between serious execution and touches of whimsy that helped him excel on the show.

Voltaggio has added new performances to his repertoire. At Table 21–a four-person bar set inside the kitchen–Voltaggio prepares a special 21-course menu that might include carnival-style cotton candy one moment and line-caught Arctic char the next.

When we asked for a dish that showed off his less-is-more style and favorite flavors, nothing seemed more perfect than his update of steak and potatoes from a mid-season Top Chef challenge (click here to download the recipe).

A longtime chef for Charlie Palmer's D.C. steakhouse, Voltaggio is a meat purist. He recommends a center-cut rib eye, simply seared in grapeseed oil. He pairs the meat with sautéed mushrooms and serves it alongside mashed sunchokes–in lieu of potatoes–topped with a slushy frozen chive purée and a garnish of fried onions.

Voltaggio used a can of fried onions on the show, but you can make your own. He won't judge.

Volt, 228 N. Market St., Frederick; 301-696-8658 or voltrestaurant.com