Chef Michael Tuohy, a native San Franciscan, cut his teeth in the restaurant business in the early 80’s when Bay Area restaurants such as Chez Panisse, Zuni Café, and Mustards Grill served as an early inspiration for the farm-to-table movement, and to Tuohy, equally admirable were the chefs that ran them.
Inspired by this increasingly popular locally-sourced movement, Chef Tuohy welcomed an opportunity to move to Atlanta, GA where he opened his first Atlanta restaurant Chefs’ Cafe. From there, he followed up with three more acclaimed Atlanta restaurants culminating with Woodfire Grill, praised as one of the first critically acclaimed farm-to-table experiences in the Southeast.
With a warm atmosphere showcasing an open kitchen with a woodburning oven, rotisserie & grill, handmade, reclaimed wooden tables, locally sourced foods, and daily changing menus, Woodfire received national accolades from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, and the New York Times.
Fast forward 10 years, California beckoned Chef Michael to return, this time straight to the state’s capital where he opened The Citizen Hotel & Grange Restaurant, followed by several others.
Expanding beyond boutique hotels and restaurants, an opportunity knocked on Chef’s door when the NBA’s Sacramento Kings began building a new arena several blocks down the street. Instead of dinner service for several hundred, he now had to feed 17,600 as he headed up the first locally-sourced F&B program at the Golden 1 Center.
Chef Tuohy’s goal? To source 90% of the venue’s food from local farms and purveyors located within 150 miles of Sacramento.
Now with over 40 years of experience in hospitality, Tuohy gathers all he’s learned and helps support new ventures, and new endeavors of others joining the food and beverage industry by his consulting business, Fullhouse Hospitality. “We bring a tremendous amount of experience and resources to the table to make an idea or concept project a reality and successful,” Tuohy says in a recent interview.
We too wanted to learn what makes Chef tick these days, so we asked:
What is always in your pantry?
Pasta, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Rice, Kosher Salt, lots of spices.
What does ‘eating well’ mean to you?
Eating well, to me, starts with Fresh ingredients in season. I have supported local farms throughout my entire career. As a Chef, knowing how to cook is a given. Knowing how to source the food you cook, takes your cooking to another level.… having a relationship with who grew or raised the ingredient, as well as understanding how it was grown or raised. Is it organic? Was good animal husbandry employed?
What food says ‘home’ to you?
Pasta! As well as freshly baked sourdough bread. I always appreciate a perfectly roasted chicken too.
What would you say to a home chef intimidated to try something new?
Don’t be afraid to cook. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again! It’s just food. Part of learning is failing and understanding what went wrong. There has never been more access to recipes, cooking videos, shows, and streaming including free “how-to’s” and subscription-based platforms like Master Class. Go for it!
And so we’ll too try something new, including Chef’s Dried Apricot Syrup & Drizzle!
The chef created a delicious “Dried Apricot Syrup & Drizzle” with so many suggested usages, you’ll be enjoying it morning, noon and night!
Let’s get cookin’, Chef!
Follow Chef Michael Tuohy on Instagram @michaeltuohy