Michael Charpentier attended Clark College School of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, WA, in his hometown. He graduated with degrees in Professional Cooking and Restaurant Management in 2007 and has been working in restaurants ever since. He’s always seen himself being a becoming a culinary school teacher, so he has tried to diversify his resume of cooking and cuisine styles. He’s covered a lot of ground having worked with Thai cuisine, Scottish cuisine, Pacific Northwest and French inspired farm to table cuisine, Italian cuisine, Beer and brewpub cuisine, Texas style BBQ and Pizza.
Michael remembers watching Jacques Pepin and Julia Child on PBS as a kid growing up, and marveling at how easy they made everything look. It wasn’t until years later that he actually devoted himself to cooking. Michael says his first mentors was Matthew Yore, but he has been mentored by every chef he has worked for along the way.
Michael is currently the Executive Chef of The Treasury at Hotel on Phillips here in Sioux Falls. He loves the fantastic crew, considerate and encouraging ownership and management team, and everyone has been wonderfully enthusiastic about what they’ve been creating. They have been super supportive of him teaching and sharing his love of cooking at Plum’s too. Teaching classes at Plum’s has allowed him to share those diverse influences as well as help inspire others to keep cooking and learning about the world of food.
Q & A
Q: Do you have a special philosophy or approach when it comes to cooking?
A: I don’t believe in subtle flavors; season things well and purchase the highest quality ingredients you can afford. I also believe that great flavors and dishes don’t always require the most effort or cost, that some of the most humble and satisfying dishes are the most comforting. And taking care and consideration when cooking to share something thats delicious with people you care about, whether thats customers at the restaurant or your family and loved ones.
Q: Which job gave you the most meaningful experience?
A: I worked at Smokehouse Provisions in Vancouver, WA, in 2017 and 2018, and ran the entire restaurant as both Chef and General Manager. Managing all aspects of the restaurant and staff taught me a lot of patience, and we made the best BBQ I’ve still ever tasted, which also takes patience and a foundation of high quality ingredients. When all you have is Meat, Seasoning, Smoke and Time as your ingredients theres no hiding the quality and consideration thats required to make great BBQ. Now I want ribs…
Q: What dish inspires you most?
A: Pizza! I’ve been obsessed with it for a really long time but hadn’t had the opportunity to make it professionally until I moved to Sioux Falls in 2020. Building the dough, the stretching and the topping and the baking, its wonderfully relaxing compared to so many other types of cooking. You can hew to traditional toppings or get crazy, good dough is a foundation for just about anything you want to put on it. And it’s so universally beloved; no one complains when you show up somewhere with pizza!
Q: What are your favorite tools in the kitchen?
A: Knives, for sure. Keep them sharp and treat them well and they will last a lifetime. It’s amazing how a knife thats comfortable and sharp can make a positive difference in the kitchen. I also have some favorite pots and pans that I’ve acquired over the years: a Dutch Oven, a carbon steel skillet, antique cast iron that belonged to my great-grandmother.
Q: Where is your favorite restaurant? (lt does not have to be local, it can be international)
A: My all time favorite restaurant was called Pok Pok, and showcased Thai street food, but it sadly closed in 2020. Thankfully I have their cookbook! Many of my other favorite restaurants are in the Portland, OR, area, where I’m from originally: Eem, Apizza Scholls, Tulip Shop Tavern, Rally Pizza, Jojo, Devil’s Dill Sandwich Shop… I could go on indefinitely. My favorite restaurants I’ve found since moving to the Midwest are La Buvette (Omaha), Young Joni and Hai Hai (Minneapolis) and Look’s Market and The Treasury (Sioux Falls).