“We must have impeccable food and run our business well. But the key is training our staff to offer hospitality that makes all our guests feel welcome.”
RESTAURATEUR MICHAEL McCARTY aims to turn every meal at Michael’s into “a great party.” Growing up along the Hudson River, he learned the art of hospitality from “consummate entertainers”–his mom and dad–and he is known for bestowing warmth, generosity and style upon every aspect of his Midtown Manhattan restaurant Michael’s. Since 1989, the popular hangout for movers and shakers of the media and entertainment worlds has set today’s standard for fresh, seasonal and modern American food served in a relaxed setting surrounded by fine contemporary art.
How did you begin your career in the culinary world?
In September 1969, the night before I left for a high school year in Brittany, France, my dad’s best friend took us to dinner at a great Midtown restaurant. I realized the owner got to throw a great party every night and get paid for it, and the restaurant bug bit me. That, plus lots of good eating in France, inspired my studies in Paris at the Cordon Bleu, Académie du Vin, and Ecole Hôtelière.
What restaurants have you previously opened?
In 1979, I opened the first Michael’s, still thriving, in Santa Monica. Critics hailed it as “a modern American restaurant.” A generation of top chefs including Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel, Nancy Silverton and Sang Yoon got their kitchen chops there.
What appetizer, entrée and dessert dishes is Michael’s best known for?
Our food’s seasonal, local, and fresh. Right now, that means Nantucket Bay scallops with Maine uni, winter radish, and Meyer lemon beurre blanc; Long Island duck with lentils and rainbow chard; and blood orange panna cotta.
What is the secret to running a successful restaurant?
Of course, we must have impeccable food and run our business well. But the key is training our staff to offer hospitality that makes all our guests feel welcome.
When you’re not at Michael’s, where can we find you dining?
I’ll be on our New York apartment terrace or our Malibu patio, grilling whatever’s in season.
What is your favorite drink?
Classic cocktails like Negronis and Tanqueray and tonics. But whatever else we’re drinking, I love to pour the Rambla Pacifico Pinot Noir from the grapes we grow surrounding our house in The Malibu Vineyard. Nothing beats a great wine you made yourself.
What are your favorite pastimes?
Throwing parties, eating, collecting art, and traveling with my wife Kim, who’s an artist. Each June and July we visit London, Paris, France and Capri, where we indulge in all those passions.