BY SUZANNE LEDBETTER
To foodies in the 209, Chef Michael Midgley is a culinary legend. Known for his role on the Bravo TV series Top Chef, Mike has solidified his fame with a big personality and bold flavors at Midgley’s Public House in Lincoln Center.
But Mike’s story began long before his stint on television. Like many chefs, Mike’s education began at home drawing inspiration from his family’s Sunday suppers. By the time he was 14, he was torn between professional baseball and a culinary career.
With a decision made, Mike enrolled at the California Culinary Academy and graduated at the age of 22. He bought a bar and began a catering business when the opportunity arose to work under Chef Steven Putnam at Wine & Roses. “Working under Putnam was a great learning experience,” Mike says. “He mentored me for the year and a half I spent in his kitchen.”
But it wasn’t long before Chef Midgley found himself auditioning for Bravo Television’s Top Chef. He was cast in Season 2 and challenged the judges with his larger than life personality and unpretentious food. While it may have made him famous among audiences worldwide, it was a challenge for him to find work in any local kitchen when he returned to his hometown of Stockton. So, Mike returned to catering and teaching as a culinary instructor until 2009 when everything changed.
Mike was granted an opportunity that would fulfill his desires: A restaurant owner who believed in him enough to let him run the kitchen. Dennis Williams of Ernie’s Food and Spirits in Manteca offered Mike a job. “The opportunity to work with someone who had such quality food and service was life-changing,” Mike professes. “It gave me a platform to show what I could do.”
A few years later, the reputation he built at Ernie’s brought forth serious attention. Only this time, it was Mike’s time to truly shine. Teaming with Patrick Dobson and Phil Johnson, he brought his own restaurant to Lincoln Center. Midgley’s Public House opened in 2014 to much acclaim with quality food, inventive cuisine, and huge portions. Locals dig the avocado fries, and the pork belly sliders are leg-en-dary.
Mike is also famous for his award-winning chili that has won many Chili cook-offs around the country. In fact, he has four first-place trophies to show for his efforts, and he serves bowls of the award-winning goodness at Midgley’s Public House for eager diners each week.
And just in case you thought Midgley was content, there’s more. In the coming weeks, Mike will launch Midgley’s Public Truck, where he aims to conquer the catering world! His custom food truck is going to be tricked out with all the bells and whistles, giving him the opportunity to pump out serious eats on the go. Get excited because this is going to change the food game in San Joaquin County!
If you haven’t been to Midgley’s, head there now! Chef will be serving up seasonal dishes like the comforting turkey wellington that induces serious thanksgiving vibes!
original article: https://sanjoaquinmagazine.com/2018/10/behind-the-knife-4/