Chefs of Indian River County – Michael Glatz
Join The Treasure Coast Foodie for his brand new video series where we get an inside look at chefs from Indian River County! We will get to see some of our favorite chefs, and some new ones, in their element as they answer questions from The Foodie Guy! In this episode, we dive into Coffee House 1420 and get to know Chef Michael Glatz!
Q: Where did you acquire your culinary education?
A: I’m a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, the country’s greatest cooking school, maybe even in the world many, many years ago. But really, you get your experience in the industry. The school gives you like any school, gives you the basics, the knowledge, it’s what you do with this, what you feel inside. what you go out and do in the experiences that you have and those experiences for me came from the different places throughout the country that I’ve lived in and that’s where truly you gain the most amount of experience.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned in culinary school?
A: The most important thing that I learned when I was at the CIA really was the art of the kitchen, that a restaurant is really like an orchestra, and there has to be somebody in charge, and there has to be musicians all lined up and everybody’s got to be in tune doing all the right things and more than a specific dish or a specific technique, I learned that’s how a restaurant runs and that’s something that I’ve carried with me forever. The food portion of it is easy, ’cause that’s in here, and of course in culinary school, you learn the techniques as a young person of grilling, and sauteing, and how to use a knife, and so on, but my biggest takeaway was the art of the symphony.
Q: What was your first culinary job?
A: I started in the industry at a very young age, an uncle, you know, once or twice removed by blood, owned a hotel in New Britain, CT and I was very young and he knew that I wanted to go to culinary school one day and through my grandmother, I had this great interest in cooking and he gave me a shot by letting me be a dishwasher, which is how most great chefs start in the kitchen, but I didn’t wash dishes for very long because again when you have that passion, and that desire for more. I found myself, I don’t remember 14 years old, maybe, quickly peeling shrimp and cleaning lettuce and the chef kind of putting his arm around me showing me the routine and encouraging me to go to culinary school to learn more. So that was my real springboard to my career, for sure.
Q: If you had not become a chef, what profession would you have chosen?
A: Gosh, you know, I’ve tried to leave the restaurant business several times throughout 40 years and it never worked because I think it’s in your blood. I got into the wine business for a while, that was OK, but really, I think it’s the hospitality, something the loving of food and not because I don’t think you should do anything if you don’t have the passion. I’ve oftentimes thought to that myself if I didn’t do this, what would I be doing? I love playing with numbers, so I think accounting which is just the total opposite end of the rainbow being a chef because it’s not creative or anything it’s very black and white, but I also think that that’s helped me as a restaurateur cause I understand numbers and I love to make column A match column B and everything work out fine, so I suspect if I wasn’t doing this I’d be in accounting.
Q: What do you love most about being a chef?
A: The thing that I love most about being a chef is hospitality because being a chef for me is like welcoming you into my home, it’s like a grand dinner party, whether it’s a big hotel like I’ve worked in the past, or my great little coffee shop here in Vero Beach, welcome to my home, I’m going to cook for you I’m going to feed you and make you feel good, and that to me is is my most favorite part of being a chef.
Q: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
A: So favorite ingredient you know, I get asked as a chef, oftentimes you know what do you like to cook, or if this was your last meal, what would it be, or what’s your favorite wine? And gosh, I’m so noncommittal, because it depends on what inspires me that day, or at that moment. My favorite ingredient today might not be my favorite ingredient tomorrow. In a restaurant, coffee shop, you know you have your menu that’s an expression of yourself and that works well with the restaurant, but in terms of as a chef might be my favorite ingredient, I find my inspiration in different places. I might have been to a restaurant last night and I liked what they did, or sometimes I didn’t like what they did, but I like the idea of what they were trying to do and it makes me go out and be inspired to create the dish, I’m cooking for myself, from having friends for dinner. Sometimes I just go to the market, the farmers market, grocery store, whatever, and I see what’s there, and boom, the idea pops and that’s where the inspiration comes. So just like my favorite meal, there isn’t one. My favorite ingredient, there really isn’t one, it’s the ingredient of the moment or the meal of the day.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: My favorite kitchen tool. I think it’s just a knife because I could do anything with a knife and I’m not even fussy about that knife. When I was a young apprentice in California, I remember my chef of the places I was apprenticing, he was teaching me how to turn tornay mushrooms and that’s when you take a big mushroom cap, and you take a little paring knife and he kept flipping it and make like a little flower of its kind of cool. Well, he then went and did that same thing with a giant French knife, and then he pulled out his cleaver, like whittling a stick and a couple of seconds he did that, and it made me realize that you know it was a certain knife for each job no matter what you’re doing, but sometimes you only have one knife to work with, and maybe it’s your favorite, or maybe that’s all there is, your cooking at a friends house, or you’re doing somebody a favor and you open up the drawer and there you go. You pull that out and I could do anything with any knife. So I have to say that the knife, which seems almost very obvious, might be my favorite tool. Very simple, right? We have all these mechanical and electrical things nowadays, but really, from the beginning of time, just think about it, a knife. It makes sense. That’s my favorite tool.
Q: Who is your inspiration when it comes to culinary creations?
A: My inspiration in the beginning to be a young chef was a combination of my mother and my grandmother who both loved to cook. My mother was a very simple basic home cook for a family of seven, but my grandmother was a restaurant chef and actually not mine, she wasn’t my mother’s mother, that my father’s mother and she was a restaurant chef and every time you walk into her kitchen at home, it has flour dripping off the walls and pots bubbling on the stove, she was always something cooking, so as a very young boy, that was my true inspiration. And then I don’t even remember when I saw my first Julia Child television show, but that did it for me that that was it. And since then I love all things, Julia. When I was younger, and really in learning mode, before the Internet, right, we worked with books, that’s how we learn things. And of all the books that I collected and worked with through the years, so many formulas didn’t work, but Julia’s formulas always worked, and she was an entertainer, and she practiced hospitality. Funny gal, and so she, and in conjunction with my mother and my grandmother are my greatest inspirations to be a chef.