Chefs Veg Out: Danny Bortnick of Firefly
Short ribs and baby octopus may dominate many menus in the city, but that doesn't mean local chefs can't find love in an acorn squash. In our ongoing series, Chefs Veg Out, we'll prove D.C.’s chefs can play with more than just meat.
- Name: Danny Bortnick
- Title: Executive Chef and General Manager
- Restaurant: Firefly
- Cooking Since: "Professionally for 15 years but I was trying to flip eggs in a pan before I could even reach the stove."
- Random Fact: "I happen to be really handy. My wife and I just last year gutted and built a new kitchen and we did 90 percent of the work ourselves: everything from demolition and knocking down walls to installing cabinetry, electric work and plumbing."
- Favorite Vegetable: "Mushrooms, especially morels. But I get sick of it after their three-month season."
- Least Favorite Vegetable: Raw onions. "I love onions but hate the bitter bite of raw onions. I think it's distracting."
- Memorable Meatless Dish: "I went to eat at the French Laundry after graduating from cluinary school. My mom got the vegetarian tasting and she got this beet salad. It was circles of beets all the same size leaning on each other. It was a work of art. The taste was something a lot of chefs could do but you could tell how long it took to assemble."
- Best Vegetable Dish at Firefly: Side of caramelized Brussels sprouts. "They're so delicious and when the season ends it's one of the things I miss greatly. And people ask for it all of the time. The Brussels sprouts are blanched in water with kosher salt. Then they are caramelized with butter, oil and shallots. Then we deglaze the pan with mayple syrup to get a nice balance of sweet and salty."
- Quick and Dirty* Meatless Idea: "I don't know what you mean for dirty. I have quite an extent of garden at my house. What came to my mind was digging up some lettuce and argula. A squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and oil."
*For future interviewees. Quick and Dirty: fast and easy execution.
Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell