Michael’s passion for cooking developed early in life while growing up in rural Virginia. His mother, an immigrant from France, took great pride in preparing food for her family, and Michael fondly recalls watching her make her own sauces and canning fresh fruits and vegetables using only the freshest ingredients from local farms and markets. She taught him, at an early age, how to appreciate and select the best ingredients by using what was in season and preparing them in atypical meals which sometimes included calf’s tongue and rabbit brains, freshly slaughtered meat, or apple pies baked with the same apples that were picked earlier that day. “I believe it was Mom’s love and passion for cooking good food that encouraged me to pursue a career as a professional chef,” he says.
Michael began his restaurant work in his teen years as a pot washer. An eager fifteen-year-old, he was fast and an easy study; progressing through each station with each restaurant he worked at. At the age of twenty, Michael was hired at the landmark Claiborne’s restaurant, the 1910-era former train station in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. Before long, Michael was named Executive Chef, a position he held until he decided to make the move to the more urban Richmond and its attraction of restaurants. In Richmond he held chef positions at Linden Row Inn, a historic hotel made famous by local residents such as Edgar Allen Poe; and Europa, a Mediterranean tapas and wine bar located on restaurant row.
In 2002, Michael was given the opportunity to move to Miami to work under one of the country’s greatest chef, James Beard award winner Norman Van Aken, at his renowned restaurant Norman’s in Coral Gables. Michael impressed his new employer and quickly rose through the ranks. He was promoted to Executive Sous Chef and was tapped to help organize the kitchen at Norman’s new Los Angeles location. Michael assumed the mantle of Chef de Cuisine in 2006.
Michael has remained in Los Angeles and has worked at some of the best restaurants including Bin 8945, Michelin starred Joe’s, Father’s Office, Palihouse, The Churchill, The Larchmont, and Cliff’s Edge. The amazing produce and abundance of variety in LA has allowed Michael to explore and define his craft utilizing his unique knowledge of spices and artfully using ingredients from Indonesia, Cuba, Africa and points far and near.
Michael has also been featured on several television shows and competitions such as Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell, Chopped, Knife Fight with Ilan Hall, Guilty Pleasures, and CBS News. Other mentions include Wine Spectator, LA Tmes, LA Weekly, LA Magazine, Art Culinaire, Matfer Bourgeat, Perez Hilton, Eater, Club W, Dobel, and Molly My Magazine. He has also been mentioned by Zagat as part of LA’s rich culinary historic family tree and voted as the number 1 fried chicken in the country by InStyle Magazine.