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Michael Voltaggio Reveals What He Ate When He Was Broke

The Bravo's Top Chef winner wasn't always at the top of his career.

Michael Voltaggio

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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