Meet Michael Chipps… we call him Chipps.
Chipps started with us here at the Bistro when we re-opened this “new” location over 12 years ago. I still remember Mary and I had set up a card table in the Bistro while it was under the construction process, and we held interviews there for a few weeks before we opened. In walked this young, good looking skinny guy, super excited to work for a certified executive chef (Mary). He was looking for a place that held higher standards than where he was currently working. And I will tell you that word, “standards” says so much about Chipps.
When Chipps first started, his culinary knowledge was decent, not exceptional… he was mostly self-taught. But I could tell right from the start that he paid attention to detail. Before we opened, we went through an intense week of training with all the cooks. It was a small group, just 3 girls, 3 guys, my sous chef at the time, Greg Brown, and myself. Chipps had a notebook, asked a ton of questions, and took notes, not everyone came so prepared. He was a solid line cook but needed finessing.
12 years later, Chipps is the guy I go to when I need something done beautifully. He is a stickler about plate presentation, consistency, and flavor. He is our main sauté chef. So, if you’ve ever had the Steak Diane, he made your sauce to order, perfectly… seared Salmon just right, steaming hot mussels cooked until melt in your mouth… that was Chipps. 75 % of the Chalkboard Features come from the sauté station, so I know you’ve had something Chipps has had his hands on. He is the number one guy that I go to for training new staff, as I know he will be on point with every detail. Chipps comes in early on the regular and one of the first thing he asks is “what does anyone need?”. He pushes everyone hard, but never harder than he pushes himself.
My relationship with Chipps has been a rollercoaster. He’s a type A. I’m not. He needs rules, I hate em’. He’s got a short fuse, I (usually) don’t. He’s tough on everyone, more so himself.
Not only has Chipps become my main night guy, but he is also my cherished friend. He walks in the door every day with his big boom box, Chipps loves music… asks how everyone is doing and always has a story to tell or something to show you. He loves funny videos, and he loves to share his music. He writes, plays piano and guitar and sings. He’s incredibly talented. He usually has a new drink or snack to share with us and is one of the most generous people I know. He’s the first guy to say thank you (even bigger… I’m sorry) and if you’ve ever been nice to him or shared a personal moment, you have a friend for life. I still pick on him for being a spaz… he’s been known to yell my name across the Bistro for the tiniest thing (I can’t help but jump to attention), and he and I usually share a laugh every day. He says no one pushes his buttons like I do. Ha-ha sorry Chipps, I just can’t help myself.
I’m incredibly grateful that skinny cute kid stepped in my door 12 years ago.
Next time you walk by the line say “Hi” to Chipps and know you have someone very special watching over every detail back there.
Click the button below to hear a quick little diddie he did