Executive Chef Michael Perez dreamed of traveling the world, but not necessarily as a cook – he wanted to be a flight attendant. While taking a hospitality class in high school, a guest chef from Johnson and Wales University-Miami spoke of his extensive travel abroad and inspired Perez to change course. After graduating, Perez applied to Johnson and Wales University-Miami’s culinary program and was able to enroll without the necessary prerequisites after sharing his passion with the culinary instructor. Perez set out to pursue his career in culinary world, and hasn’t looked back.
Following college, Perez moved to Hawaii and cooked aboard two Norwegian Cruise lines. After his cruise ship tenure ended in 2007, Perez returned to his hometown of Portland, OR, to stage under a French-trained chef at the Timberland Lodge. Perez’ next role was Sous Chef at Ten 01, which was named “Restaurant of the Year” under his direction. In 2008, Perez became Sous Chef at Tabla Mediterranean Bistro in Portland, which received the award for “Best Pasta Dish” by Willamette Week’s Annual Restaurant Guide.
Perez moved to California in 2010 to assume the role of Sous Chef under the Food Network’s acclaimed chef Scott Conant at his award-winning Beverly Hills restaurant Scarpetta. Perez also served on the opening team for Scarpetta inside The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. In TK year, Perez became Executive Chef at the Deep Creek Fishing Club in Ninilchik, Alaska where he successfully developed a new menu at the full-service luxury lodge.
After journeying to Charleston, SC in 2011 to further his career, Perez joined the Indigo Road family where he later became a part of the opening team for Indaco, the group’s Italian concept located in Charleston. In 2015, Perez relocated to Atlanta where he opened Colletta, Indigo Road’s second Italian outpost located in Alpharetta’s premier Avalon development. This summer, Indigo Road will open Donetto, a Tuscan-inspired restaurant on the Westside, where Perez will serve as the executive chef serving Tuscan fare, popular staples from the regions of Sienna, Umbria and Rome, an array of meat-centric dishes and a rotating pasta menu.
Perez says his favorite part about cooking is learning new things while teaching his staff and fellow chefs. When not in the kitchen, Perez appreciates a full day of snowboarding or fishing, exploring new restaurants with friends, and fulfilling his love for travel and exploring new cultures. Connect with Chef Michael on Twitter and LinkedIn, and Donetto on Twitter and Facebook.
Skye Estroff is the marketing and media manager for Atlanta’s largest food festival, Taste of Atlanta. Skye manages all TV, radio and print media relationships, as well as strategizing and planning all social media. She is an Atlanta native, a University of Georgia graduate and an expert in Atlanta’s best food. Connect with Skye and Taste of Atlanta on Twitter and Facebook.
The Springer Mountain Farms Southern Wing Showdown produced by Taste of Atlanta takes place Sunday, August 20th at The Foundry at Puritan Mill. For more information on the event, visit their website and Facebook.