Award-winning, Belgian-born, Executive Chef Michel Wahaltere
For nearly two decades, award-winning, Belgian-born, Executive Chef Michel Wahaltere has pleased international fine dining patrons with exceptional recipe and menu creations that combine innovation with tradition. Equally distinctive in its unique simplicity, Michelâ€™s enchanting cooking style resonates with his European heritage, unveiling a dining experience that he defines as â€śa simple, luxurious indulgence.â€ť
As a teenager, Michel asked his father, a butcher who taught him how to select the best cuts of beef, pork, veal, poultry, and lamb, to introduce him to the great chefs of Southern Belgium, and arrange a short apprenticeship to become a chef. He had learned early on how to compliment a prime cut of beef at his grandmotherâ€™s Gourmet shop where he â€ścould find delicate cheeses, exceptional olive oil, fresh dairy products, exquisite Belgian chocolate, and more.â€ť
â€śHe did a great job!â€ť exclaims Michel, also known by nickname â€śMichou.â€ť
In 1986, after training in Restaurant Management at the Culinary Institute of Liege, and Apprenticeship Programs at Scholteshof in Hasselt, Belgium, and Le Moulin De Mougins in the South of France, â€śMichouâ€ť began his culinary career as a Souz Chef at Champagne, a Provencale & French Cuisine restaurant in Los Angeles.
Soon after, Michelâ€™s reputation spread, and for the next several years, he spent time between New York and Los Angeles as a Consulting Chef and as an Executive Chef for fine dining restaurants, including Remi, Chapo, and Farfalla.
Michel arrived in Aspen, Colorado in 1993, serving as Executive Chef at Campo De Fiori, and was nominated for an Honorable Mention for â€śBest Chef of Aspen.â€ť In 1998, as Partner and Executive Chef, his restaurant, CafĂ© Amici was awarded â€śBest New Restaurant in Aspen.â€ť
It was no accident that nationally renowned restaurant designer Jody Pennette, and eminent Hotelier Russell Sternlicht (Starwood Hotel & Resorts) selected Michel as the Executive Chef for their new Greenwich, Connecticut restaurant, ViVO Bar and CafĂ© that opened in February.
â€śHe was dazzling us for years in Aspen as the personal and professional chef of Prince Bandar.â€ť
Equally impressive is Michelâ€™s expert knowledge of wines, and his creativity in constructing the restaurantâ€™s wine selections. â€śItâ€™s imperative for chefâ€™s to be knowledgeable about wines. They are an expression of varying sensuous pleasures, add to the experience, and make it memorable.â€ť