As history would write the facts, Michael Voltaggio would become the winner of Season 6 of Bravo's Top Chef, and a successful chef whose name is known around the world. But it wasn't always like that — and before he made it big time, he had to cut a few corners to feed himself on a budget.
Thrillist recently asked some big-name chefs what they ate when they had to pinch their pennies in the days before they made it big. And Voltaggio's answer was both practical and appealing — a rather more elevated solution than store-bought processed ramen packets: dim sum.
"Dim sum restaurants were my go-to," he told Thrillist. "They charge as you eat, so you can order a variety of great food and as soon as you hit your budget mark, you stop ordering."
Michael's brother Bryan had a different strategy, seeking out "huge portions" of food and booze on most days — but also splurging on food even when it was beyond his means.
"Living in New York as a young chef, I basically survived for seven years off of family meals the restaurants provided, then I would save up paycheck after paycheck to go out to restaurants like Cafe Boulud or Gramercy Tavern," he told Thrillist. "But my wife and I lived in Flushing, Queens and we would regularly go to this small Mexican place called 5 Burro Cafe on Austin Street. They had huge portions of cheap tacos that were delicious, plus giant frozen margaritas they served in mason jars."
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