YEARS IN FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY:
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BECOME A CHEF?
I always knew that I'd follow in my father’s food science footsteps. (In 1951, my father became the first manufacturer to hire a chef to sell food products.)
When I was 6 years old, my parents bought an old car wash and turned it into a food plant. I have pictures of myself washing floors there with my mom. She was a good cook and used us eight kids as her test panel. By the 9th grade I was washing pots and pans. Then I learned how to bake while at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center at Michigan State University. While in Vietnam I cooked for the commanding general of the 199th infantry. I knew if I made it back, I'd be a chef.
From the time I was in high school until I went to work at my father’s company, I worked in some form of foodservice. My father’s background was in Organic Chemistry. Working together with professional chefs, he developed paste bases used to make full flavored stocks so I was exposed to the profession early in life.
Starting my freshman year in high school through my sophomore year in college I worked at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center at Michigan State University where I got a job washing pots and pans, then learned how to bake. After I got back from Vietnam where I cooked for the commanding general of the 199th infantry, I decided to go through the chef apprenticeship program at The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. I was hired as the Sous Chef at the Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, VA, and next became the Executive Chef at the Deering Milliken Guest House in Spartanburg, SC.
WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
My father [Dr. Lewis J. Minor, founder of L.J. Minor Corp in 1951] told me when I went to work for him: Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. When you’re young and cocky, you can do and say things that can put yourself in jeopardy. I took his advice, and worked, observed, listened, and asked questions. I learned to take the time to understand a situation before trying to solve the problem.
World Association of Chefs Societies, American Culinary Federation, American Academy of Chefs, Research Chefs Association, The Honorable Order of the Golden Toque, World Association of Chefs Societies
Inducted into the Order of Golden Toque; Winner, Grand Gold Medal, World Culinary Olympics, Frankfurt, Germany – 1984; Honored with the first foodservice degree program to an individual’s name (The Michael L. Minor Master of Science in Foodservice Management Degree, Michigan State University), Research Chefs Association Pioneer Award, 2001, Research Chefs Association Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007, Charter member of the Research Chefs Association