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Michael Voltaggio to seek peace and understanding through food

Mariana van Zeller and Michael Voltaggio stand in front of symbolic graffiti art by artist Banksy on the Israeli West Bank barrier
Mariana van Zeller and Michael Voltaggio stand in front of symbolic graffiti art by artist Banksy on the Israeli West Bank barrier (photo supplied by Travel Channel)

Can regional animosities survive a good meal? The folks at Travel Channel are looking to find out.

Chef Michael Voltaggio, a Frederick native and winner of season six of Bravo's "Top Chef," will be joined by journalist Mariana van Zeller for "Breaking Borders," a docu-series premiering at 9 p.m. March 15.

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The series, according to a press release from Travel Channel, will "visit conflict zones around the globe in an attempt to bring two sides together through the one thing we all have in common -- our love of a delicious meal."

The series opener will feature a visit to the West Bank. Subsequent episodes will be set in Cambodia, Northern Ireland and Cairo, among other places.

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The premiere episode, featuring what the release promises will be the "first kosher dinner (Voltaggio) has ever prepared," will bring together two families of Jewish settlers, a Palestinian bookstore owner, a Palestinian guide and the general director of a pro-two-state-solution group.

"For each location, I arrived with just my bag of knives and a vague idea of some of the most traditional foods from the region," Voltaggio said in the release. "I started from scratch buying every ingredient on the ground and constructing my interpretation of the local cuisine. I put 100 percent of myself into cooking every meal. It was an honor to sit at the table and hear the stories."

Voltaggio owns Los Angeles' renowned Ink restaurant, as well as ink.sack, a sandwich shop a few doors down. His brother, Bryan, is executive chef at Frederick's Volt restaurant, as well as Aggio restaurants in Baltimore and Washington. He also owns Family Meal restaurants in Baltimore and Frederick, as well as Richmond and Ashburn, Va.

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