Each night promises a new challenge for Chef Michael Young…
Whether it is turning a traditional kugel dessert into a starch dish by adding wild canary mushrooms or accentuating a Thai grilled red snapper into a visually appetizing feast, there is one certainty to expect from his cuisine: the unexpected. With indubitably well-rounded skills, Michael can, and has, conquered different styles of food without compromise. Creating new and diverse dishes through inspiration as well as a natural awareness for food combinations, each must be prepared with just the right spice, vegetable, seasonal ingredient and attitude.
Michael's interest in cooking was developed at an early age…
Every Sunday, he would watch and study his father, a chef in a French restaurant, cook a meal for his family. Developing his culinary skills during high school, Michael honed them in college to help pay his way. It was at a Thai restaurant in what some consider to be the Mecca of the culinary world, Manhattan, where the budding chef developed his passion for creating food that provides a pure balance of the bitter, sour, spicy, sweet, and salty. Disparate presentations, aromas, and flavors tantalize and satisfy the diner's sight and smell even before the taste buds are finest.
At the tender age of 21, Michael became chef of Buckaroo’s, specializing in south-western cuisine. Here, he quickly became adept at kitchen supervision, calculating food and labor costs, and menu design, thus adding a new dimension to his restaurant repertoire.
In 1994, Michael began working with Douglas Rodriguez at the three star nuevo latino restaurant, Patria in Manhattan. Under the tutelage of this renowned chef, who received the "Rising Star Chef of the Year" award by the James Beard Foundation, Michael was privy to a whole new type of cuisine as well as rare and wonderful new ingredients. Taking salsas and adding unusual fruits and tomatoes or playing with Latin American tubers with goat cheese, roasted garlic or bacon, Michael began to elaborate on his already well-developed creativity. As the Tournade, he assisted the opening of the prestigious 125-seat restaurant, and was responsible for training in all areas of the kitchen.
This experience helped him during his tenure as a consultant for Erizo Latino, a 70-seat seafood restaurant in the heart of Soho. Through designing the opening menu and purchasing the kitchen's equipment, Chef Young was an integral part of Erizo Latino's enormous success. During this time, he was also the Executive Chef of the Doral Park Avenue Hotel. For his efforts of being responsible for all American food and beverage styles for the hotel, as well as the training of kitchen staff members, he received the "Chef 2000" award from "The American Tasting Institute".
While Michael has garnered a well-rounded resume encompassing every aspect of the restaurant industry, it is his food which best defines him…
The owners of a then yet-to-be-established southwestern restaurant in Aspen, Colorado were so thoroughly impressed by him that they invited him to consult for their designing team. As the Chef de Cuisine, he created the theme and menu for Blue Maize, which catapulted the restaurant into its present luster.
Michael's reputation brought him back to his hometown of New York City and he was promptly presented with the immense challenge of revamping a hip, kosher restaurant whose food was generally considered sub-par, The menu of Lansky Lounge has been transformed into whimsical fantasy, featuring such delicious innovations as battered sole coupled with traditional kasha, a dish that excels in both presentation and taste.
In 1999, excited to work with the nuevo latino style that he learned under Douglas Rodriguez, Michael became Executive Chef of Habana in South Norwalk, Connecticut. He expertly reacquainted himself with those rare ingredients, such as malanga and yucca, which he enjoyed working so much with at Patria, all the while maintaining the "very good" rating that the New York Times attributed to the restaurant under the previous Executive Chef. Working for Habana provided Michael with the opportunity to truly test his skills as he was offered the position of Executive Chef at its new sister restaurant Ocean Drive, Located in close proximity of one another, both restaurants are fortunate enough to have Michael lend his expertise and guidance and divide his time equally between the two. Here, he also helped Ocean Drive to garner its own New York Times rating of "very good". Over fifty kitchen staff members at both restaurants regard him with the most respect and admiration, as they are treated as his equals rather than his employees. Remaining forever calm, even during the busiest of dinner rushes, Michael exemplifies true patience and returns the respect that his cooks show for him.