Chef Charles

I was born and raised in southern Michigan in a small community known as Dexter. Being the oldest of four children I learned to cook at home and on the farm. My duties included gardening and preserving, assisting in butchering, baking and processing many foods for consumption and storage. My grandmother was very instrumental in teaching us in this area as well as soap making. My sister produces wonderful soaps and salves to this day and I continue in the food industry. My idol on television was the infamous Julia Child. My grandmother was of German and Alsatian descent so the variety of foods and learning were available. My grandfather and father made wonderful wines and I learned the art of brewing beers and making liqueurs while a teenager. This laid the basis for my desire to continue in the hospitality industry.

After high school I worked for a year to earn the money to get through one semester of learning at the Culinary Institute of America. At that time it was located in the Taft estate on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut. While at school I worked at Gitlitzs’ Bakery on Whaley Avenue assisting in the production of babka and mini-danish for the Jewish Community Center. Learning the art of Jewish cooking and baking added to my experience. At the CIA I was fortunate enough to have two chefs take me ’under their wings’ aside from the daily instruction at school. Chef Bonfice, an owner of several restaurants in New York state and former instructor from the Cordon Bleu in Paris and Chef Maurice Hellou, formerly from the Cordon Bleu and well known wine sommelier whose experience included being Executive Chef at the White House for Franklin D. Roosevelt. The ’tricks and tips’ learned from both were invaluable to my education. I was trained in baking, pantry preparations (hors d’oeuvres, salads, sandwiches), line cooking for all meal periods, meat and vegetable preparations, soups and sauces, table service, wine and cocktail service, and of course, purchasing and inventory controls. With only one semester of education I returned to Michigan and applied all I knew finally earning the position as Executive Chef at the Briarwood Hilton in Ann Arbor, Michigan shortly before my twenty-first birthday. Then owned by Restaurant Associates of New York, I became the youngest Chef in the corporation surrounded by many French and other European Chefs of middle age and older. (I immediately grew a beard so no one would guess my true age!)

Since then I have been employed by hotels, private clubs, privately owned restaurants and large corporations. Some of these were Barton Hills County Club and Birmingham Athletic Club, the Specialty Restaurant Division of the Stouffer Corporation, the JD Hatchery Corporation in Atlanta, Georgia, the Lady and the Dove in Denver, Colorado, the Rhinoceros in Detroit, Michigan and the Waterfront Inn / Reflections’ Restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan. To date I have over forty years of experience in the hospitality industry including banquets and catering.

I hope to see and meet you some day here in my little operation in beautiful downtown
Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Chef Charles



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