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The Not-So-Mad Scientist: Michael Voltaggio
Why We Picked Him: It’s been just over a year since the Top Chef winner debuted his restaurant, which is also his first foray into helming his own ship. The operation could have been smothered by hype, but Voltaggio kept his head down and maintained a menu that stimulates the taste buds as well as the mind, offering dishes that sport such ingredients as “embers” of zucchini and almond-bonito “sand.” While many previously foam-happy chefs now dismiss molecular gastronomy as a misguided trend, Voltaggio, one of the style’s torchbearers, is helping usher the genre into an era of practicality. Back to School: “Our profession is evolving so quickly—it takes a lot of discipline to keep up. I just try to remain a student, continue to study and get better. I used to think, ‘I’ve got my own restaurants now, I’ve got my style,’ but the truth is, I don’t. I still don’t know what the f—k I’m doing.” » Ink.: 8360 Melrose Ave., Beverly Grove, mvink.com. Ink.sack: 8360 Melrose Ave., Ste. 107, Beverly Grove.