Michael Costa is Head Chef of Zaytinya, José Andrés’ award-winning restaurant in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, DC. Zaytinya specializes in mezze, “little dishes” that draw on the flavors of Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. Prior to joining José’s team, Michael was executive chef at Pazo, the Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group’s small plates restaurant in Baltimore. Under his direction, Pazo received a 3 ½ star review from the Baltimore Sun and earned a 3 Star rating the Mobile Travel Guide. With more than twelve years experience, Michael has cooked in several top kitchens, including turns at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Michel Rostang in Paris, France and Michel Richard’s Citronelle in Washington, DC where he served as private dining chef. In 2010 he was nominated “Chef of the Year” by the Maryland Restaurant Association for his work at Pazo. In 2009, he won “Best Wine Pairing” at the “A Taste of Elegance” event in Baltimore. Michael cooked at the James Beard House in 2009 presenting “An Exploration of Catalan Cooking, Traditional and Modern”. Costa holds an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, Culinary Arts, from El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, where he studied under the culinary school’s Greek founder Costas “Gus” Katsigris. He began his career in Dallas working at Chef Kent Rathbun’s restaurant Abacus. Before devoting himself to the restaurant business, Costa attended the University of Virginia where he graduated with a degree in Government and Foreign Affairs.
The great knives compel you to use them. They feel like an extension of your hand. My favorite knife right now is a beautiful custom left-handed Hongasumi Takobiki from Yoshihiro. Many Japanese knife makers do not even make left handed knives, let alone make them well. I have often found myself spending hours correcting issues with uneven bevels. This knife was accurately ground and shaped right out of the box. The fit and finish are impeccable from the gorgeous handle to the beautifully rounded choil and spine. All of that is wonderful to look at and to feel but the reason that it is my favorite is how the food that I slice with it looks on the plate. It cuts and releases as cleanly as anything I have ever used.