Executive Chef, Firefly Restaurant
Firefly's executive chef, Daniel Bortnick, was born and bred in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md. In fact, his Washington roots are even tied to the very block on which the restaurant sits today, where Bortnick's grandparents owned a neighborhood grocery.
In 2007, he joined Firefly as the youngest executive chef in the restaurant's history. Over the years, he has reinvented the restaurant's menus to deliver a thoughtful and modern interpretation of classic American comfort food.
Bortnick supports local farmers and purveyors when gleaning ingredients to make his contemporary comfort food. A fan of each season's bounty, he goes looking for natural harvests in the wild and even in his own backyard. The greens he forages for salads make Dupont Circle diners very happy indeed.
- Q: What are your favorite things to forage?
- A: Greens... things like lamb's quarters (a relative of spinach), purslane and dandelion.
- Q: What's your favorite dish to make with foraged ingredients?
- A: Salad. Wild greens are the easiest to come by. Some common ones in the D.C. area are lambs quarters, dandelion, purslane and sorrel. I like to dress them simply with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, and top them with shaved parmesan and fresh figs from my garden.
- Q: Where do you go to dive into nature?
- A: My backyard, for starters. I can find onion grass, purslane, lambs quarters and wild arugula there. Also, I look in parks and the edges of wooded areas.
- Q: What's your favorite season for foraging?
- A: Spring. I go out several times. That season is great because most of the dead leaves have decayed so it's easy to spot things. It's also the most plentiful season.
- Q: What do you bring with you on foraging expeditions?
- A: Scissors, a towel (for dusting the dirt off plants and my hands) and a basket.
- Q: What are you on the lookout for, but haven't managed to turn up?
- A: Morel mushrooms, but I need an experienced morel forager to take me out. They are only found in the wild and are highly prized. They are very difficult to find because they are scarce and are typically within fallen leaves and pine needles, and therefore hard to spot. I love them quickly sautéed with shallots, garlic, butter and sherry.
- Q: Have a particularly memorable foraging story?
- A: I was foraging for greens in a park in D.C. and just up the hill I saw a dog lift his leg and pee on the row of greens along the edge of the woods. This was a great reminder to forage further in the woodlands and not where humans and pets commonly wander.
It's time to put on your chef's hat and work some magic of your own. Give it a go with Danny's Favorite Recipe Foraged Mushroom and Pumpkin Risotto.
Firefly | 1310 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: (202) 861-1310 | www.firefly-dc.com