The making of a passionate chef.
Michael was born in Oakland, California and grew up in a suburb of San Francisco. Both of Michael’s parents worked in the hospitality business therefore he was indirectly exposed at an early age to the restaurant bar environment.
In 1973, Michael got a job as a bus boy at a local high end family run restaurant, “Scotty Campbells”.
He worked there for 4 years and this experience would be his first look into the restaurant business.
In 1980, Michael decided to give the other side a try and was the only one chosen among 50 applicants to be trained over a month period to second the departing chef for a travel/food trip taking place in one of the most wonderful places to study and work in the culinary field: France.
Michael owes a good part of his passion for food from the late, Thomas McCombie, who hired him to second him during his trip abroad. No one can learn everything within a month, but Thomas’ idea was to train Michael so he could carry on during Toms absence. Michael proceeded to learn how to make puff pastry, crepes, omelets, tournedos Rossini, cassoulet and many sauces. He stayed on at Pear Williams for a full year of training after Tom returned from his trip.
In June 1981, Michael interviewed at the now closed “Harrahs Summit Restaurant” at Lake Tahoe. At the time, The Summit was one of only a few Mobil Travel Guide Star restaurants on the West Coast. The chef, Jeff Gold, gave Michael one of the hardest task in the kitchen: the soufflé station. If he could handle the heat, the chef would let him stay. Everything that Michael hadn’t learned with Tom McCombie he would learn at the Summit.
In May 1982, Michael traveled to Europe for 2 months to discover and find inspiration for his new trade. Upon returning, he continued his training in French restaurants in the Bay Area and ultimately started taking French classes at a local college.
In January 1984, the 23-year-old Michael left to work and live in France to continue his culinary apprenticing. He was hired for the summer at a high-end French Restaurant on the island of Ibiza. Upon returning to the French capital he landed a position at one of the trendiest places back in the days, in the neighborhood of the famous Les Halles. Working his way to where he wanted to be. In 1985, Michael was offered to open a new Paris eatery located in the 5th Arrondissement near the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
But as always in life, plans changed and Michael decided to stay in France full-time and get out of the restaurant business.
It was 1989, with his close friend Alvaro, they both saw an opportunity in a niche market to give greater popularity to Tex-Mex and Mexican food. They started the first tortilla factory in Paris with distribution of the fresh tortilla and chips but also a full range of goods, bringing Tex-Mex and Mexican food to the French market where they were quickly acknowledged by bigger companies such as Corona Extra, the Mexican beer.
Corona Extra became Michael’s life for the next 23 years, developing the brand across the EMEA area which brought along with it all the cultural and culinary adventures which allowed Michael to keep pace with his culinary passion for food.
During one trip to the island of Bali, Michael sat and listened to Johnny, a native Balinese who spent 20+ years in NYC who went on for 3 hours explaining all about the food and drinks they proposed at SOMA which were all either RAW or VEGAN…
Michael’s imagination began to reel and to say the least…Johnny had planted a seed which would grow over time.
Michael returned a second time to Bali in 2014, took a two-month trip around the world and would be inspired by the strong increase of vegan oriented outlets and juice bars around the world. He made a promise to himself that once back in France, he would advocate good health and propose healthy alternatives.
Decision taken. Michael put to life his original idea that had grown through time:
World Food Barn, a world-wide view of our beautiful earth and everything it has to offer…
Hope you enjoy as much as I do.