From the Kitchen of: Danny Bortnick

Chef Danny Bortnick of Firefly is cooking up some Colorado-fare from now until January 25 in honor of The Phillips Collection’s current exhibit from well-known artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude.  The Over The River, a Work in Progress is an exhibition chronicling the artists’ process as they prepare to assemble and suspend massive silvery fabric panels horizontally over the Arkansas River in Colorado (remember the orange panels in Central Park?).

On the menu, Chef Bortnick offers up the novel addition of what else, but Rocky Mountain Oysters!  These delicacies might be thought of to be best suited to the adventurous diner, but their flavor, close to that of sweetbreads, makes them a gourmet treat!  Stop in to Firefly to try them!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A Vita Prep. It’s sort of a blender on crack. It helps us make super smooth soups and purees, grids spices, and makes great emulsions.  At home, you can use it to make healthy, organic baby food.  It also makes the best milkshakes and frozen cocktails.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
“Sysco-cooking”.  That’s where you buy frozen, prepared product from Sysco, mark it up, and sell it as your own.  Common items include frozen battered foods that just get dropped in the fryer, desserts that get taken from box to plate, and even soups that you just add water too.  You would be surprised to learn that some restaurants actually do this.  Cooking is an art and a science and when it is dumb-ed down to mere reheating, the soul of the food is lost.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Cal-Med – as in California and Mediterranean.  It would be very seasonal, organic, and straight forward.  It would blend the cuisines of Southern France, Spain, Italy, Northern Africa, and Northern California.  The cuisine in these areas is very ingredient driven, simple, comforting, and delicious. I would also love to open a Jewish delicatessen.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
There are so many, it’s hard to pick one. What’s really cool is how these relationships have grown over the years beyond traditional farmer-chef ties.  Steve Turnich from Northern Neck Fresh Fruits & Vegetables has mentored me as my own organic garden has grown. Mike Pappas, from Eco Farms, is hand-throwing pottery that we use in the restaurant. I get plants from Tuscarora Organic Growers for my home garden.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Everybody wants to reserve a table between 7 and 8.  When customers are more flexible with what time they eat, we are able to feed more guests, more efficiently, and with better service.

What do you drink/eat after work?
Beer and cookies, preferably Wild Goose IPA and Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I make pesto from my garden and put it in everything for my 3 year old…he loves pesto!

Click below for Chef Bortnick’s recipe for Basil Pesto…


½  CUP            PINE NUTS
2 EA            GARLIC, CHOPPED
To Taste        SALT & PEPPER




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Filed under Food, Interview, News, Outside DC, Restaurants

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