John and Alexis Michael help prepare students for the hospitality and culinary arts industry
by Emily Beckman
From England to the United States, Executive Chef John Michael has continued his longtime passion for the culinary arts industry.
He recalls beginning to work at a place in England called La Patisserie at age 12. At 14 he moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he was unable to work in the industry until age 16.
Eventually, in his early 20s, he wound up at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. There, he would earn his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and meet his future wife, a Wichita native.
After marrying in 2006, John and Alexis Michael moved to Sonoma, California: California Wine County. He worked in Napa and she worked in Sonoma, both in the wine industry.
In 2009, after having their first daughter, they moved to Wichita.
Now, John is the chair of Butler’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department, and Alexis is an adjunct instructor for the department.
They both enjoy working with students.
“Like most teachers, I love seeing students discover their passion for the subject matter,” Alexis writes in an email interview. “College is a great place to find your tribe and geek-out over a subject. I love witnessing that happen with food and hospitality.”
John says he talks to his students when he feels like he’s having a bad day.
“The things so much of them are overcoming to be here; to follow a dream, it’s humbling. It’s really amazing,” he says.
John notes that culinary arts classes aren’t just an “easy A.”
“The culinary program really exists for students who take it very seriously and are interested in pursuing a career in culinary arts,” he says. “It’s not just playing in the kitchen.”