Chef Michael Vogler embodies drive and dedication. His backstory is unique, inspiring, and motivating.
From dishwasher to the Executive Chef at Drift Kitchen + Bar inside of the Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, with a boasting menu that’s delicious and memorable.
It was a pleasure meeting Chef Michael. He was kind and excited to talk about food. If you get the opportunity to speak with him during your stay, you will see he exudes Southern charm and hospitality.
Interview With Chef Michael Vogler
Where did you train, and get your start as a chef?
Chef Michael Vogler: My first official position as a chef was at the Chart House in Savannah, Georgia, in 1985. The Chart House specialized in steak, seafood, lobster, and prime rib. This is where my interest in the culinary field began.
I started as a dishwasher, and on one fateful day, the broiler cook called out sick. I was asked to fill his spot on the line and took my place at the broiler for the first time. No food was sent back to the kitchen on that busy day, so the next morning I was offered the job full-time.
My experience can be deemed primarily self-taught. I worked my way up in the kitchen by holding a variety of positions until I received my chef license from the American Culinary Federation. It wasn’t the most conventional way of reaching my goals, but it worked, and I learned so much along the way.
How long have you been the Executive Chef at Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa?
Chef Michael Vogler: I’ve been the Executive Chef at Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa since it opened in 2017. Prior, I worked with Ocean Properties for eight years in multiple kitchens at multiple hotels.
What are your Top 5 recommended dishes currently at Drift Kitchen & Bar?
My #1 recommended dish is our Day Boat Scallops. These are jumbo, diver scallops that pack a lot of flavor on their own. We place them over a sweet shrimp risotto made with delicious peppers and key lime butter. It’s a hard dish to pass up and definitely my favorite.
My second dish recommendation is the Fettuccine Bolognese. Made with our house recipe butcher’s block, three-meat blend, and simmered with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh herbs, and roasted garlic, this dish is delicious. We toss that mixture with our housemade fettuccine and pecorino Romano cheese. It is always a crowd-pleaser.
My third recommended dish is our Blue Crab Crusted Grouper. We only use the freshest, local black grouper we can source, and then pan sear a fillet and top it with flavor-packed crab meat. Served alongside roasted garden vegetables, citrus butter sauce, and roasted Yukon potatoes, this plate is another one that is hard to beat.
My fourth recommendation on our menu is the Tuna Poke, served with fresh avocado, citrus ponzu, scallions, and crispy wontons.
My fifth menu recommendation is our House Special Meatballs made with our butcher’s block, three-meat blend, served in a San Marzano tomato basil marina, and topped with creamy whipped ricotta cheese.
Describe your food in three words.
Fresh. Local. Coastal.
Where did you grow up, and how did your upbringing help you create your palate?
Chef Michael Vogler: My father was in the military, so I grew up all over the place. The most memorable and influential place I have lived in is Savannah, Georgia, where I went to high school. There, I learned about southern cuisine and seafood since we were so close to the water.
I spent a lot of my time as a kid catching blue crab, shrimp, and fishing, and over time I developed a palate for seafood. My parents were both fantastic cooks, and the Spanish influence from my mother’s side and German influence from my father’s side worked their way into my palate.
Who is your dream guest you’d love to prepare a meal?
Chef Michael Vogler: Chef Thomas Keller. He started The French Laundry and many other restaurants.
What is the process of creating a menu for a high-volume restaurant?
Chef Michael Vogler: Creating a menu for a high-volume restaurant requires diversity in every category, from appetizers to entrees and even desserts. The goal is to ensure everyone who walks through our doors will find a plate they want to try.
It takes a lot of trial and error sessions in the test kitchen and the drive to find out what works best. The right menu can’t be so diverse that it doesn’t make sense. Therefore, we make sure all of our dishes encompass the singular theme of seafood-centric. Once you find that balance between diversity and continuity, you have a menu that pleases the masses.