image Employee Spotlight on: Chef Michael McCully

October 10th, 2012 by Von Luger

Chef Michael McCully is the visionary responsible for creating those delicious dishes at Carl von Luger Steak & Seafood. For the first employee spotlight, we pulled him away from his latest culinary masterpiece to cook up an interview to give you insight on the man behind the line.

Where are you from?
New Jersey

What is your educational background?
Graduated with an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York.

What companies have you previously worked with/previous experience?
I participated in a French Internship through Paul Smiths College in which I traveled abroad and was selected to work in a prestigious 3-Star Michelin rated restaurant in the heart of Burgundy France. There I learned from some of the hardest yet most talented chefs I have ever encountered anywhere. While in France, I also studied at the Cordon Blue Institute in Paris in which I received a certificate in French Cultural Immersion.

I’ve previously worked at:
Perona Farms Andover, NJ, Palm and Palm Too Manhattan, NY, State Street Grill, Milestone Ranch, Camelot Restaurant and Inn, Clarks Summit,PA.

How long have you been working at Carl von Luger Steak & Seafood?
I starting working here 2 weeks after they opened their doors in April 2011.

What is your favorite dish at Carl von Luger?
The Porter-house Steak and the Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp.

What is your favorite thing about working at Carl von Luger’s?
Carl von Luger’s is a great fit for me because of the professionalism that is a standard in all operations at the restaurant. In addition to the professionalism, the sense of “Family” that emanates from the restaurant is truly remarkable. I am treated with respect and my opinion is always heard.

What sets Carl von Luger apart from other restaurants?
Working in a family business is much different from other establishments I have worked in in the past. I find that I enjoy working in this type of atmosphere quite a bit more than others. I have only known some of the people that I work with for a short period of time, but I feel as if I’ve known them for a lifetime. They have welcomed me in with open arms and have truly treated me as part of the “Family.” Its a good feeling to come to work when you know that people are looking forward to seeing you.

What is enjoyable about working in the Carl von Luger kitchen?
The working environment here at Von Luger’s stems off of the Family Dynamic. Everyone is expected to chip in and do their part to make the machine run on a day to day basis and everyone is held accountable for their actions. Every employee that I oversee understands this concept and follows through with their duties without hesitation.

What are your hobbies?
When I have free time to myself, I love to fish, golf, ski and most importantly hang out with my fiancé, Sara, and our friends. I wouldn’t be the person that I am without my friends and those that are closest to me. I love to have people over and cook for them in a little less stressed environment while having a couple beers or a few glasses of wine.

What about cooking inspires you and why?
Well, there are many things about cooking that truly do inspire me. Cooking things that make people happy and smile is something that I really love. But it’s not just that. I also love the thrill of service and the fast pace that comes with it. I am a laid back individual naturally but once I am in the kitchen and in that chef coat, I become someone else… a little stern, touch of cockiness and a whole lotta flair. I also love the fact that cooking embodies all the five senses. I can smell the roast chicken in the oven and tell that it’s just right. I can hear the sizzle of the scallops searing in the pan behind me and know that the fire’s not hot enough. I can see that the plates look great and are properly garnished. And the hands going a mile a minute with that favorite knife of mine and the taste of a perfect sauce

What do you consider the components of a perfect dish?
Proper technique from start to finish will always make a perfect dish no matter what it is. From perfectly cooked scrambled eggs to al dente pasta, it’s all really about the technique. But if I had to breakdown components I would have to say that it must have the proper portion of main item to sauce and other components on the plate. Each thing must play well with one another and never clash just to be “different”.

What ingredients do you enjoy cooking with?
All kinds of fish… It’s often abused and overcooked.
Fresh herbs and locally grown produce are also a pleasure to work with
And onions… There’s not many savory recipes that don’t start with onions. And not just yellow or white onions, but shallots and garlic which are also part of the vast onion family.

Do I feel as if I am part of the current food revolution?
As a Chef, I am very conscious of the consumers desire to be more aware of their dietary intake and food origins. I strive to offer menu items that will satisfy these consumer needs while maintaining focus on the menu concept that has been set forth in front of me.

What is the most Interesting food you’ve ever eaten?
Working at Perona Farms in NJ, we held a “Game Dinner” Benefit for MS every winter. Local Chefs and hunters would bring in their catches from throughout the year and prepare them for six to seven hundred people in many different ways. The most interesting thing I have ever eaten came at one of these Game Dinners in the form of “Duck Fries”. But duck fries aren’t fries at all come to find out. They are actually duck testicles. Interesting silky smooth texture, odd flavor and large unusual shape. Not what I had expected, but definitely the most interesting thing I’ve ever eaten.

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