Mike Bagale – the name synonymous with Alinea and floating food – is a chef brimming with talent, creativity and drive. Initially involved in the film industry, his career prospects changed once he was exposed to the creative outlet of culinary arts, realizing that this was his true passion.
The edible green apple balloon that Mike created in 2011 at Alinea made him the pioneer of floating food, and with that, a household name for any foodie – a brilliant achievement for a chef. But what is not as commonly known about Mike is the broad mix of classical French training blended with the 15 years of experience in modern global gastronomy that he has under his belt. The culinary luminaries that he worked alongside throughout these 15 years include Thomas Keller, Michel Richard and Albert Adria, all of which have had an impact on his growth as a chef.
Mike’s culinary prowess and creative mastery became most evident in 2009 when he moved to Chicago and joined Grant Achatz’s three Michelin-starred Alinea. Within one year, he was promoted to sous chef, and in 2012 he became Alinea’s first ever executive chef. It was here that Mike really let his creativity flow, developing new and innovative culinary techniques that set him apart from other chefs.
At Alinea, Mike delighted all his guests to a memorable culinary experience that was a feast for the senses, lighting fires directly on the diners’ tables, presenting aromatic fruit bowls fueled by dry ice and serving edible vanilla beans. It was this culinary experience commandeered by Mike that cemented Alinea as a 3 Michelin-starred establishment in the Michelin Guide for 6 years running.
Mike has always kept his eyes open for new ventures, and left Alinea in May 2018 after 6 successful years of being their executive chef to pursue his own international culinary consulting company, Super Food Concepts LLC. With all his previous success at Alinea, the future seems bright for the chef, who also has aspirations to open a restaurant of his own one day.
Describe your culinary philosophy in FOUR words:
Innovation, education, texture, flavor.
What is your greatest inspiration?
The fact that we only get one chance at life.
What FOUR things would you take to a desert island?
Family, kitchen, music, surfboard.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
Noma’s next pop-up.
- 3 Michelin stars at Alinea| Michelin Guide 2012-2018
Balloon image courtesy of Cityfoodsters.
All other images courtesy of Mike Bagale.