EAT AMERICA – Baltimore, Maryland
In this multi-part series, Eat America, we will be exploring American cities emerging as dining destinations. Read as we profile a sampling of chefs who are bringing boldness and brilliance to market while employing social media to showcase themselves. This report was made possible with research conducted on behalf of McCormick For Chefs.
A city that wears its history proudly on its sleeve, the birthplace of “The Star Spangled Banner” is home to more monuments than you can shake a stick at. While the city may have taken a few knocks in recent decades, The Charm City is now experiencing a true renaissance and its culinary scene is on the front lines of the surge forward. Baltimore has a lot to offer – classic Maryland crabcakes are on the menu but so too are modern Italian, Korean fusion and farm-to-table.
Bryan Voltaggio at Volt and Aggio Restaurants
“Maryland in my blood,” it says in Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s Instagram bio. That and a knack for making fiendishly good pasta. Keeping the Italian philosophy of “three ingredients and the truth” but doing away with a strict recreation of nonna’s classics, Chef Voltaggio has created a small empire of six restaurants with his re-imagined Italian cuisine.
Menus are anchored around classic Italian dishes – lasagna, octopus and branzino (sea bass), for example, but carefully incorporate international flourishes like nori or tomatillo when called for.
Chef Voltaggio uses Instagram to share arresting, minimalist images of seasonal ingredients and a peek into his day-to-day world as a top Baltimore chef. It’s garnered him nearly 50,000 followers.
Spike Gjerde at Woodberry
Chef Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry is a love letter to local agriculture and the beauties of seasonal farm-to-table cooking. The restaurant industry veteran has helmed numerous restaurants including a venture with his brother, Spike and Charlie’s, but it was Woodberry that earned him a 2016 James Beard Award for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic.”
Chef Gjerde uses their Instagram to share the behind the scenes story of his kitchen and share credit with his own staff and the farmers that make Woodberry possible.
Joshua Hershkowitz at Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks
In the South End, siblings Joshua and Stephanie Hershkowitz may run just about the cutest pizzeria in all of the Eastern seaboard. Pizza toppings stay mostly planted in the classical Italian tent, as do the thin, blistering crusts fired in their wood burning oven. The drink menu, which warrants equal attention, plays more fast and loose with an offering of creative cocktails.
Hersh’s plays nice with others in the neighborhood, even inviting Baltimore favorites, The Corner Pantry, over to do a full British-inspired snout to tail hog roast.
Check out their Instagram feed for special events, bubbling hot pizzas and dazzling drink selections.
Tim Dyson at Dooby’s
In Mount Vernon, one of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods and a long established gay village, here’s a team doing something all new. Chef Tim Dyson and his crew take inspiration from the spicy and sweet base that anchors many Korean bar snacks and rework American diner staples from burgers to good ol’ mac and cheese. Fun, decadence and a little playful craziness are on the menu here. Think venison burgers stacked with gruyere and bacon or the richest looking ramen you’ve laid eyes on. It’s visual proof you don’t need to spend a fortune for good food made creatively.
Check out their highly popular Instagram account for a vicarious hit of the salty goodness and sweet treats on offer daily.
Nick Schaumann at The Local Oyster
It really doesn’t get much more Baltimore than The Local Oyster. Clams, oysters, classic Maryland crabcakes and lobster are all done up simply as you can muster. There’s not an ounce of pretension here, just freshness and quality above all. Partnering with their supplier, True Chesapeake, Schaumann and his team want to serve up only the best of sustainable Maryland seafood.
The Local Oyster’s Instagram takes you straight to Chef Schaumann and the BOH lads getting busy – and, not so occasionally, getting a bit silly.
Leo Moncel is a food writer, photographer and emerging social media professional. He draws on years of experience as a line cook and a hands-on knowledge of regional cuisines to inform his work. He is one half of the foodie adventure team @appetitetours.