As director of both InHarvest’s Culinary and Marketing Teams, Chef Michael shapes the development of new products and works closely with his team to introduce new customers to the company’s core products. He’s the primary image-builder with all industries and segments InHarvest serves, working closely with growers, suppliers, brokers, distributors, manufacturers, foodservice operators and chefs to deliver meaningful food solutions.
Chef Michael, the 2012 recipient of the Research Chefs Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, understands patrons’ desires for menu background. “Diners crave a story behind their origins of their food, even before it lands on the plate.”
A member of both the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) and Research Chefs Association (RCA), Chef Michael is also the current chair of the culinary advisors to the Whole Grains Council.
Chef Michael travels both nationally and internationally, giving presentations and cooking demonstrations on whole-grain trends and innovative applications, heirloom cultivation and sustainability.
What’s your favorite music to listen to in the kitchen?
Music is a major part of my life and I tend to listen to multiple genres in any given day. But if I had to pick a favorite artist right now, it would have to be Needtobreathe—there’s no one out there like them! My go-to SiriusXM stations: The Pulse, The Message, No Shoes Radio and PopRocks.
What lesser-known grain do you think chefs should be paying attention to?
Like I could pick just one! Besides greenwheat freekeh, probably nerone Italian black rice and bamboo rice.
Sum up your approach to creative culinary in 5 words or less.
Fresh, seasonal. Less is more.
What defines you as a chef?
Bringing specialty and/or heirloom rice, grains and legumes to market. After 24 years, nothing could be more definitive!
What is your favorite type of cuisine?
Traditional Mexican...in Mexico :) Nothing beats street tacos made right in front of you.
Do you have a go-to kitchen tool?
Chef’s knife...I’m paralyzed without it!
Where do you go for culinary inspiration?
When I’m not traveling for work, I’m often lucky enough to be traveling with my wife and daughter experiencing the flavors and cuisines of other countries. I have yet to find anything that rivals this for culinary inspiration.
What is your favorite grain to work with?
Freekeh brings an incredible umami quality to any dish
Because of the plant-forward movement, Freekeh is once again my frontrunner with the incredible umami quality it brings to any dish. A close second would be wild rice as it makes its way into more plant-forward R&D with its meaty texture, resilience and wonderful nutty flavor.
What’s the next “hot” thing for diners?
I tend to keep my predictions within my area of expertise: rice and grains. Sprouted grains are finally on the rise as nutrition takes center stage with consumers looking for more antioxidants and increased levels of the amino acid known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). The health benefits are endless!