This is Chef Mike.
Chef Mike, tell us more about how you got into cooking.
Full disclosure: I don't have one of those romantic, nostalgic stories of being in the kitchen with my grandma or anything like that.
After graduating high school, I actually majored in broadcasting. But after a few semesters, I realized that I liked broadcasting, but I didn't love it.
I’ve always believed that whatever you pursue throughout your professional life, you better love it.
So, I took the proverbial semester off and bumped around a few jobs here and there (just to keep gas in the car).
Then I landed a runners job at Marriott; and being in the kitchen I got to see the chef have full command of the kitchen, the staff, and most notably THE FOOD.
Well, the spark was lit.
I marched in the chef's office at 20 years of age and told him my mind was made up.
The coolest part of this story was how unfazed he was.
He never even looked up at me as he placed his produce order.
All he said was, "Ok, well you'd better go to school…” and so on.
What is the most difficult aspect about being a chef?
Read enough Anthony Bourdain (R.I.P. Chef) and you'd say it was the ubiquitous chemical romance of caffeine, Vodka & Vicodin in all their excesses.
Watch enough reality cooking shows and you'd say it was the constant barrage of mind bending, demoralizing criticism from an executive chef who's really a toxic cocktail of Adolf Hitler mixed in with some Megatron and a Darth Vader complex.
But, do this job for 25 years and you'll know that the most difficult aspect is emptying yourself completely.
Night in and night out.
For every plate, sauce, event and dinner for 2 or 2,000 replenishing yourself is crucial.
Not having an off-switch is problematic.
In the long run, the damage becomes apparent.
First the unseen (mental health), then the outward stuff (physical health or family/relationships).
It's a slippery-slope, yes.
But today, with more awareness than ever on the importance of self care, life balance can be seen as more than just a bad joke.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Batman meets Jason Bourne!
The training of a samurai.
The heart of a ninja.
So that I will dive in head first into the abyss to save the function and leave a trail of bodies on multiple shores 💣
Do you have any upcoming events that we can expect to see from you?
With the unfortunate freeze on all of society due to COVID-19, no one has been able to hold any events.
But, I have actually used this time away from my "day job" as Executive Chef at the Luxe City Center Hotel to really focus on developing my own catering venture that I started in 2017: Next Level Events.
With all the restrictions on restaurants and large gatherings, I've actually been keeping busy by posting menus' on IG.
I'm doing drop-off catering for small intimate groups of 10 that still want to do something special for their graduations, Mother's Day brunch, Easter brunch, etc.
So far we've had 4 Birthday dinners.
Follow Chef Mike:
The NEXT LEVEL IG and website are under construction, but I can be reached currently on the gram.