Bio: Firefly's executive chef Daniel Bortnick is no stranger to the DC Metro area. In fact, his roots in the area go deeper then the restaurant's signature decorative tree-almost to the very block on which the restaurant sits today, where Daniel's grandparents owned a neighborhood grocery. His great uncle was a DC restaurateur who was also known as "The Watermelon King," a name he was given because of his penchant for handing out the melon to local children.
As a child growing up in Rockville, Maryland, Danny's formative years were spent in an environment that was one of home-cooked meals and family dinners. When Danny graduated from Churchill High School and went off to college in Madison, Wisconsin, he went to work flipping burgers and 'dropping' fries. A career was born.
After graduating from Madison with a degree in marketing and international business, Bortnick switched gears and decided to attend the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco-an area he cites as being 'the ultimate food city.' He worked at Rivoli, a popular neighborhood restaurant in Berkeley while attending classes. After finishing culinary school, he returned to Madison to work the line at Restaurant Magnus and consulted and developed menu items for The Blue Marlin.
Bortnick followed his stint at The Mendocino Grill with another culinary foray. This time the destination was Florence, Italy. The simple flavors and traditions of the area were an epiphany. The clean ingredients of the markets and local farmers added regionality to what he had already grown to love about products and preparation.
Upon his return from Italy, Bortnick found a simpatico culinary mind in Robert Weland, executive chef of Poste Moderne Brasserie in DC's Penn Quarter neighborhood. He was engaged by Weland's view on the local, regional, organic and seasonal, as well as the relationships with growers and farmers. He became Weland's executive sous chef and worked with the chef in menu development, running the kitchen, and creating culinary excellence.
Bortnick's position as executive chef at Firefly ushers in a new era of great casual dining for the neighborhood restaurant. One with an emphasis on contemporary American Comfort Food made with local ingredients. The menu features small plates, soups and salads, entrees and sides all designed to be approachable and delicious. Many menu items were inspired by meals of Bortnick's childhood. The simple, clean flavors and seasonal products will shine of every plate. And he is glad to be leading the kitchen right in his own back yard.