Raised in Upstate New York, Banquet Chef Michael Shields grew up, hands deep, surrounded by the rhythm of the outdoors. For the better part of his life, it's been the same routine, go to school, play football, head over to meet his family and prepare for work at a construction site. But when he was roughly 14 years old (and the promise of a driver's license loomed close), Chef Michael found himself in a kitchen. "It was a means to an end," he says now about his experience as a dishwasher in the Plattsburgh, New York restaurant. He never meant to stay.
And so, at 18, Chef Michael ditched his dish rag and started bartending while attending school for Mechanical Engineering. Though the hours were later and the pay higher, he still aspired to do more. After stints in the kitchens of such notable institutions as The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California, The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Washington, D.C., the Quail Valley River Club in Vero Beach, Florida, and after working as Executive Chef at a small plates bistro in upstate New York, Chef Michael accepted a position at Ocean House in October 2013.
As his title implies, Chef Michael is responsible for managing every aspect of event cuisine – from the preparation to the execution.
"I don't have a printed ticket to tell me what to make," he said. "I don't have a dinner service. My service comes from BEOs (banquet event orders).
"I take part in every event and I have to do it at the highest level I can every day. My goal is to put our Five Star, Michelin Star food from my banquet kitchen here at the Ocean House."