Posted by Ashley Caldarone
A former chef with over 22 years in the catering industry, ISI employee Michael Lane utilizes his knowledge and experience to best serve our customers.
Michael’s interest in cooking began when he was in elementary school. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, he returned home to Texas and quickly became employed in the fine dining industry by becoming a personal chef for many influential musicians and athletes.
Michael also developed a catering business, which started as a side job and ultimately grew into an established company. After 22 successful years of running Michael Lane Cuisine, Inc., he sold his business and pursued another career path, this time working with private schools to better their kitchens. He worked in this section for 5 years, gaining a broader insight to the needs of a full facility and how to best help make this a reality for the lowest price.
Now Michael brings his experience to ISI Commercial Refrigeration, where he works as a Sales Representative. His wealth of experience helps him assist our customers in choosing the tools and equipment that best fit their needs.
We reached out to Michael to get to know him better and see what advice he has for those just starting in the industry.
When did you graduate from The Culinary Institute of America and begin working as a professional chef?
While I completed the Culinary Program in 1993, my work with restaurants started in 10th grade. My first job was for Mike Dougay in his restaurant. He is now the Manager for the ISI Beaumont office.
What was your favorite part of working as a chef?
Being creative and making people happy with food.
What inspired you to create a catering business?
I learned the business from Tony Chernalis, owner of Market Basket, in Franklin Lakes, NJ. He ran a $25 million catering company. I worked for him while still in Culinary school, driving 75 miles each way to work, leaving campus at 11:00 am and returning around 11:30 pm every night. By doing this, I put myself through school for almost 2 years and learned a tremendous amount about the industry. Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to be given this amazing opportunity. It’s a great story.
Is there any advice you would give to someone who is looking to start their own food-related business?
Attention to detail is a very important, do your research and get experts involved with the different parts needed to bring the concept together.
What is the most important thing you learned when changing careers from managing your own foodservice establishment to helping others managing theirs?
I like to share my experiences and expertise with those who have the desire to work for themselves. Others shared this with me while I had my company and I feel as though it’s important to extend this piece of advice to help or change anyone towards success. Even experienced restauranteurs have many questions and are intrigued about what I have to say, it’s a nice compliment!
What interested you in working for ISI?
I have known Bob Gilbert for more than 20 years, and Mike Dougay and I are very close friends. I always had a desire to learn ISI’s side of the business and there is no better way to become an expert than to learn and work for the best in the industry.
What has been your favorite part about working for a TriMark company?
I like to focus on restauranteur projects and help them bring their napkin concepts to reality.