The Island Resort & Casino has named three executive chefs to oversee the multiple, separate unique dining experiences within the facility. According to Food and Beverage Director Todd LaFave, the three chefs, Mark Cardinal, Kristina Pomeroy and Jay Fehl, earned the position through their commitment, education and culinary skills. They will be responsible for staff supervision, as well as managing the selection, buying, preparation, quality and overall success of their individual venue.
Said LaFave, 2006 U.P. Chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Chef of the Year, “These three have shown an unswerving dedication to exploring and expanding the dining experiences available at the Island . When they get together to compare notes and brainstorm, it’s really apparent that they love what they do. And they are all excellent leaders with teams that also have a passion to provide superior quality in all aspects of food service.”
Executive Chef Mark Cardinal oversees food preparation for the 5 Bridges Pub & Restaurant as well as the Island Convention Center . Originally from Ishpeming , Michigan , he quickly developed his culinary passion and creativity. “My grandmother owned a restaurant and was always in the kitchen. I guess that rubbed off on me,” he related. Time only made him more determined to follow his dream and in 1993 he graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in Culinary Arts. Shortly thereafter he became the Kitchen Supervisor for Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan . His experience has run the full gamut from line cook to sous chef to owning and operating his own restaurant and catering enterprise. He began at the Island in 2007 as line, then lead cook. To him the most satisfying part about being a chef is “the smile on the faces of the people who eat my food.”
Kristina Pomeroy is the Executive Chef for the Coral Reef Grille, as well as supervising Bingo and Sweetgrass Golf Club food outlets. She has been with the Island for nearly 12 years but got her start at Jack’s Restaurant, a dining hotspot in Rapid River , Michigan . She credits both her mother and close friends with developing her interest in food preparation and inspiring her to develop the skills and confidence to succeed in the culinary arena. Her newest challenge will be to develop and supervise the soon-to-be-unveiled signature sub sandwich and pizza venue at the recently expanded Island Oasis fuel and convenience center adjacent to the casino. “Leading my team in the right direction, working on menu development, food quality, presentation, and knowing the customers are leaving happy,” are her priorities and the most satisfying part of her position.
Executive Chef James (Jay) Fehl has the task of overseeing the operations of Firekeepers Restaurant, the number one rated casino restaurant in the Upper Peninsula for the last six years. Born in Houston , Texas and raised in Appleton , Wisconsin he truly worked his way up in the industry, starting as a dishwasher in the Appleton area. An opportunity to prep cook and work closely with top-notch chefs jump-started his desire to pursue a career in the culinary arts. He achieved his AAS degree in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis , Minnesota and is pursuing a BA in Culinary Management. He especially likes to prepare Mexican/Latin dishes and American regional cuisine. His “grassroots” background and emphasis on fundamental, sound preparation make him the ideal fit for the Firekeepers’ family-oriented dining concept and will undoubtedly lead to more awards.
LaFave summed it up by adding, “Our ultimate goal is to always give our customers the best quality and service to ensure a great dining experience. Mark, Kris and Jay are the perfect team to make this happen.”
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