Meet the Chefs

Red Mesa Grill  1544 US 31 N  Traverse City , MI 49686  (231) 938-2773
Red Mesa Grill
1544 US 31 N
Traverse City , MI 49686
(231) 938-2773

Latin American Flavors


Mexican, Caribbean, South American, Central American; all of the flavors of Latin America are celebrated at Red Mesa Grill. We offer traditional dishes and exotic specialties prepared with the freshest ingredients using our unique and flavorful recipes.

Aaron has been concocting culinary delights in the kitchen since he was eleven years old. While he has tried his hand in several different fields, the call of the kitchen always sucked him back in. Aaron has spent 12 years cooking professionally and honed his skills in several local establishments, including Auntie Pastas, Reflections and GT’s before joining the team at The Red Mesa Grill in Traverse City.

As the Working Chef at Red Mesa, when Aaron isn’t sizzling fajitas, searing steaks or serving up laughs in the kitchen, his favorite thing to do is to spend time with his wife and 3 children. They’re his hobby—he says doesn’t have time for anything else to be!

120 S. Park St
Traverse City, MI 49684
(231) 421-5912

The Italian “little sister” of Harrington’s By the Bay, Sorellina opened in late May in the downtown Traverse City spot formerly occupied by The Bay Leaf. The restaurant offers “casual but semi-fine authentic Italian cuisine” overseen by Chef Fletcher Gross

Sorellina is open seven days for dinner and soon will add lunch service. Prices range from $5 for the signature salad “La Sorellina” (baby spinach, toasted spiced walnuts, pear and Gorgonzola cheese with citrus vinaigrette) to $30 for osso bucco (veal shank). The Italian sausage is housemade, as is the gelato, one of two desserts along with tiramisu. Like Harrington’s, the restaurant also offers seafood, including swordfish, snapper, salmon and gamberetti (grilled shrimp with white wine, garlic, spinach and linguini).

127 E. Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan
(231) 421-9156

Sugar Kissed is a dessert destination in Traverse City, Michigan and is overseen by Chef Christina Burke. Sugar Kissed will offer customers a variety of cupcakes, cake pops, whoopie pies, and frozen yogurt including Leelanau coffee, Light of Day tea and matcha sorbet, hot chocolate, Northwoods nostalgic soda, water, milk, and juice. We also understand the need for gluten-free and dairy free options, EVERYDAY! Sugar Kissed will have Dennett’s Gluten Free Creations, all yogurt is gluten-free and a dairy-free yogurt will also be offered. We will serve as a gathering place where locals and tourists alike can socialize while enjoying a delectable dessert. Sugar Kissed will become known for its excellent customer service and a perfect place to host a party or buy desserts for one.

7951 Turnberry Cir
Acme, MI 49610
(231) 938-9800
LochenHeath is a golf club that pledges to provide its members and guests with the highest standards of excellence in all areas of services, facilities and activities while providing the highest level of customer service. The pro shop and restaurant are perched on the bluff with outstanding bay view throughout, especially from the large full service deck. Under the expert guidance of Chef Joseph George. LochenHeath offers exceptional food and service for lunch and dinner. If your group wants a special meal not found on the menu, our culinary staff will not disappoint while providing the best service in Northern Michigan.

Black Star Farms
10844 East Revold Road
Suttons Bay, MI 49682
A unique agricultural destination that features two winery production facilities with adjacent tasting rooms, a distillery, an Inn, and an equestrian facility. Our winery and distillery produce some of the most sought after and awarded Michigan wines and spirits. Our luxurious Inn is the perfect place to host private special events including weddings, corporate retreats, and family celebrations. Enjoy culinary offerings including dinners at the Inn or wood-fired pizzas at the Hearth & Vine cafe both located on our Suttons Bay site.

Executive Chef Jonathan Dayton’s artfully prepared dishes will inspire you to savor each bite while fully enjoying our relaxing ambience. Meals are prepared from fresh and local ingredients and are served alongside Black Star Farms wine and brandies.
Dinners are offered select Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. A complete list of dates can be found on our website calendar.

Red Ginger
Featuring Chef
237 E Front St
Traverse City, MI 49684
Red Ginger is located at 237 East Front Street between the State Theater and Horizon Books. The three story building has a beautiful Asian themed ground floor restaurant with a seating capacity of 130, a large lounge, sushi bar, and a private room for 30 to 40 people for parties, rehearsal dinners, and A/V set up for meetings. But this in not a typical Asian restaurant. “We wanted to bring an Asian flare to Red Ginger, but we wanted the customer to have the opportunity to have a great steak as well,” says Dan.

Chef and Owner Dan Marsh studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has been a chef in New York City and San Francisco. “Although I’ve worked with many different cuisines throughout the years, I’ve always been passionate about Asian food. I believe there is a desire for my style of cuisine here in Traverse City,” says Dan.

The Hagerty Center at NMC
1715 East Front Street
Traverse City, MI 49684

As Executive Chef of The Hagerty Center, located on the Great Lakes Campus of Northwestern Michigan College, Chef Cole Thornton says he is privileged to work at one of the most spectacular venues in Michigan—and to have the opportunity to express his creative nature through the food he and others prepare. Executive Chef Cole has been in the restaurant industry for 15 years. He attended Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, and cut his teeth in Aspen, CO working for the Aspen Skiing Company as a Chef in different roles including time a the prestigious Little Nell Hotel. He recently returned to his home state at be the Chef at the Hagerty Center at NMC.

Chef Cole married his wife Anne last fall and he moved here with her and his dog Bella. They enjoy any outdoor activites including mountain biking, hiking, mountain climbing, winter sports and camping.


Mission Table at Bowers
Harbor Inn
13512 Peninsula Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686
Mission Table makes its home in the former Bowers Harbor Inn, built in the 1880s as a summer retreat for Chicago lumber baron J.W. Stickney and his wife, Genevive. Extensive updating in 2008-2009 included a large format event space that accommodates up to 150 guests and the transformation of The Bowery into Jolly Pumpkin, Old Mission Peninsula’s only microbrewery.

Executive Chef Paul Olson and Master Brewer Mike Hall use local harvests and hops in their food and beer. Quite simply, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin offer unique and exciting local dining experiences. Chef Olson is a graduate of both Michigan State University and The Culinary Institute of America. He worked in Manhattan (La Cité, Café Luxembourg, and La Boehme) and in Connecticut (opened and co-owned The Cookhouses and The Inn at Newton) for the past 20 years. Paul welcomed the opportunity to move his wife and children back to Michigan to raise their family (and play hockey!) in Traverse City.

Shanty Creek Resorts
One Shanty Creek Road
Bellaire, MI 49615

Andrew Reh is a Traverse City native but has spent most of his career on the East coast. After graduating Johnson & Wales University with a Bachelors Degree in Culinary Arts he worked for the Ritz Carlton in Boston, MA and Pentagon City, VA. From there he worked for The Washington Court, a small boutique hotel on Capital Hill in Washington DC as well as The White House under the Clinton administration. He also worked for Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA.

From there he moved back to Michigan to run a Kellogg’s owned property. Two and a half years ago he finally made his way back to Northern Michigan as the Executive Chef of the newly renovated Shanty Creek Resorts. He lives in Traverse City with his wife, two beautiful daughters, and his pug Roux.

Trattoria Stella
Village at Grand Traverse Commons
1200 West 11th Street
Traverse City, MI 49684
In 2004 I moved back to northern Michigan to open Trattoria Stella. At Stella I have been able to expand my true vision of what my food can be. I run a locally based menu that changes daily. Local farmers show up at my door all summer with their goods. This kind of menu requires a lot of thinking on the fly. It is one of my greatest assets as a chef. I do the Iron Chef gig on a smaller, less pressurized basis every day during the months of June – October in Traverse City. The Farm to Table approach of purchasing is top priority in my kitchen. I deal with more than 45 individual farms in this region. My food is aggressive, bold, bright, and fresh. I keep my dishes simple, and let the quality of the products do the talking – the Italian way.
Throughout the last five years I have been featured in local and national magazines and newspapers. During last year the national spotlight has reached our little restaurant, culminating in a semi-finalist nomination for Best Chef Great Lakes Region James Beard Award. In May I will be cooking a dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan.

As far as community, I have a strong commitment to March of Dimes. I participate every year in the Celebrity Chef’s Auction. My personal life has been just as successful in the last year. My significant other, Emily, and I bought our first house in October and had a beautiful baby girl, Annika, two days after closing. (Now that’s pressure)! We enjoy all the outdoor activities Northern Michigan has to offer with our dog Benny the Boxer and chill around the house with Annie, our cat.

Tuscan Bistro
12930 South West Bay
Shore Drive
Traverse City, MI 49684
Mickey began his culinary career in Russia from 1990-1993.He opened the first America managed motel in the former Soviet Union. Training a large non-English speaking staff to manage and sustain a large motel was no small task! From Moscowit was onto Vermont where he became the Purchasing Agent and Executive Chef at the Radisson Hotel. Mickey was able to keep costs down while maintaining excellent service and food quality. Other East Coast positions included two catering restaurants in both New Jersey and New York.

Mickey is not shy with a large crowd. He was directly responsible for managing food, service and menus for up to 2,500 guests. Locally, he has worked in and around our region since 1995;Sugarbush, Northwestern Michigan College, and opening Gabby’s Bayside Bistro now called Tuscan Bistro. Mickey makes his own mozzarella cheese which is the staple of many of the dishes at the Tuscan Bistro. Opened in May of 2006, the Tuscan Bistro is open for lunch and dinner. Come in and let us serve you!

Harrington’s By the Bay
13809 S.West Bayshore Drive

Graciously sitting across the beautiful shores of West Grand Traverse Bay is your soon to be favorite lunch and dinner destination. We believe that award winning meals can’t be served without award winning service and that is just what you will find at Harrington’s by the bay.

Here at Harrington’s by the Bay we pride ourselves with our personalized service, one of a kind menu and overwelming sense of customer apprieciation . Not only do we offer custom dishes prepared by Excutive Chef Josh Vinocur, five star service and a breath taking view, you will also find an atmosphere like none other in Northern Michigan.


 The Cook’s House
115 Wellington Street
Traverse City, MI 49684

The Cooks’ House restaurant was opened in 2008 to celebrate the bounty of agriculture and artisan made products that are found in Northern Michigan.

 It is our mission to use, promote and celebrate local sustainable foods. We invite you to join us and taste the difference that comes from practicing a field to plate philosophy.

Come with us and experience how much better food can taste when made from products that come from the farmers, growers, and artisans who call Northern Michigan home.

Eric Patterson is current co-chef and co-owner of The Cooks’ House in Traverse City. Patterson spent much of the past fifteen years at Andre’s, Las Vegas’ Michelin-starred French restaurant, including a three-year apprenticeship under the legendary Andre Rochat. At the end of his Vegas tenure, Patterson was Andre’s head chef. He currently lives in Traverse City with his wife Theresa and their three sons. He has authored on cookbook with Chef Jennifer Blakeslee

Jennifer Blakeslee is current co-chef and co-owner of The Cooks’ House in Traverse City. She is a Traverse City native and culinary school graduate from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University. Blakeslee addressed her travel itch by taking chef positions in Italy, Mexico, and India earlier in her career. She spent three years working at the Michelin-starred Las Vegas restaurant, Andre’s, with Eric Patterson her current business partner. She lives in Traverse City with her daughter Abbie. She has authored one cookbook with Chef Eric Patterson.


copper falls

Copper Falls Steakhouse
1796 South Garfield
Traverse City,MI 49686

Guests of Copper Falls Steakhouse will enjoy the experience of dining in a warm, relaxing atmosphere. Come for a glass of wine from our extensive list, or try one of our sixteen Michigan craft brews on-tap.

Our Lunch and Dinner menus include scratch-made selections prepared by our highly trained culinary team. Executive Chef Tom Kelly and his team use a farm to table approach, highlighting ingredients from local growers and purveyors from all over northern Michigan.


Great Wolf Lodge
3575 U.S. 31
Traverse City, MI 49684
Great Wolf Lodge Chef

Great Wolf Lodge has a variety of options offered within the banquet menus for our catered events. From a simple meal to an elegant formal dinner and everything in between, the chef and banquet staff at Great Wolf Lodge take an immense amount of pride in making your next dining function the finest in our industry. Our presentation and creativity will provide a joyous celebration for both the eyes and the palette.

Meet Chef Thom Bennett. Chef Thom has served as the Dining Room Manager and Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge since 2009.
Every day, Chef Thom uses best practices he has learned during his 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry to inspire his staff as they keep Great Wolf Lodge guests top of mind.

Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa
12500 Crystal Mountain Drive
Thompsonville, MI 49683

Eating on the Mountain lets you have a true taste northern Michigan – our Executive Chef Bryant Betts  incorporate fresh, local ingredients into every dish. And just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to ruin your diet. Ask our servers about the Peak Performance menu for healthy, leaner portion sizes.

If you’re up for a little extra adventure, Benzie County and its surrounding areas also feature some of northern Michigan’s finest restaurants, breweries and wineries



Little Fleet Food Truck Court
448 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 943-1116

Roaming Harvest is a mobile restaurant featuring local food you can feel good about buying and eating. Chef Simon Joseph serves food that is grown, raised or made by local businesses and sustainable farms. We’re on a mission to support the local food movement and the small farm community in the Traverse City area. By doing business with us you are supporting the local economy and local farmers in our great food town.

This summer, we’re at The Little Fleet at the corner of Wellington and East Front St. Little Fleet offers indoor and beer garden style seating and a full bar along with a family friendly setting.