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Chef Michael Voltaggio: Playing With Food is Serious Business

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"To your right you have an assortment of baby carrots and radishes, 'planted' in a 'soil' of coffee and cardamom, with nori butter and smoked salt on the side," said the server, as we gazed, bemused, at a small slate bearing a fist-sized terra cotta pot full of lanky stems sunk into fluffy dirt.

"Oh, and Chef wants you to play with your food. Have fun."

It would make a better story to say that this was the exact point during my dinner at the Langham's Dining Room--in what is Chef Michael Voltaggio's last week heading up the kitchen--when we got the giggles. But, as far as storytelling goes, I can't take that poetic license. First, our table's delighted laughter began as early as when our servers arrived at the table with tongs poised above the bread basket, when the scent alone of the bacon bread made my eyes go wide in anticipation. And second, this isn't exactly my story to tell.