Michael Voltaggio has slew of new tattoos.
It’s a chilly Tuesday afternoon, hours before the busy dinner service at the 36-year-old’s West Hollywood restaurant, the appropriately named ink. Sitting in the back of the gray dining room, Voltaggio proudly shows off the latest additions to his collection of body art: a rose, a lion and the words “Hard Work” on his hand.
“The question I get asked a lot is ‘Why you? Why do you get to do this stuff?’” Voltaggio says. “People assume that I woke up one day, and I got to be on a television show and have my own restaurants. The answer to that is hard work. … I would add passion to that — hard work and passion for what you do.”
Looking at Voltaggio, both are playing out within this talented chef. His boyish looks — accented by a first-rate hipster haircut — are at odds with his innate intensity, though the ink points to his artistic sensibility. With success comes a level of sacrifice of which few outside the industry are truly aware. “You give up holidays, you give up birthdays, you give up people’s weddings, you miss funerals,” Voltaggio says, rapping the table with his knuckles for emphasis. “You basically become the outcast of your family because you put work before anything else. It’s kind of sad, but it’s also required.”
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