In the kitchen with... MICHAEL MCLAURIN,
In high school, Michael Mclaurin thought long and hard about his career. He was a star athlete, a center on his high school football team in Chicago. He had scholarship offers at several good colleges — and a passion for cooking.
“I remember sitting in the guidance counselor’s office and they asked me what I wanted to do,” he said. “I liked playing football, but realized very few players make it to the NFL. I had always liked to cook. I was looking for a college (where he was offered a scholarship) that had culinary school, but I didn’t find one, so I chose cooking.”
Today, the 6-foot, 5-inch, former high school football star is scoring rave reviews from customers at Bravo! Cucina Italiana in Jupiter’s Harbourside Place.
“Business is good,” Executive Chef Mclaurin said. “Never a dull moment.”
The restaurant’s terrace offers a lovely view of the shopping plaza’s waterfront amphitheater.
“The food is excellent and a very good price,” said Chef Mclaurin, who supervises a team of 25 cooks and a sous chef. “The service is excellent, too.”
One dish he particularly recommends is chicken scaloppini ($17.99) with roasted portobellos, provolone, lemon caper butter feta, tomatoes and herb linguine.
“It’s such a flavorful dish,” he said, “a great combination of flavors.”
Chef Mclaurin, who has been at the Jupiter restaurant for a year, previously worked at Yardbird in Miami Beach and Del Frisco’s Steak House in Palm Beach and other locations.
“I enjoy making dishes perfect for guests,” he said, “and teaching cooks working their way up.”
He and his wife, Tisha, have two children, Demi, 7, and Tegan, 7 months, and live in West Palm Beach.
“I have no regrets about not choosing football,” he said, “especially with all I hear about concussions. I play basketball now, when I can. It’s a lot less dangerous than football.”
One day, he hopes to own his own restaurant.
Original hometown: Chicago
Restaurant: Bravo! Cucina Italiana, 149 Soundings Ave. at Harbourside Place in Jupiter, 747-4445, www.bravoitalian.com. Open for lunch, brunch, happy hour and dinner.
Mission: Serve the highest quality food to each and every guest.
Cuisine: Italian cuisine
Training: Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago
What’s your footwear of choice in the kitchen? Mozo
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a chef? Try to stay as calm as possible. ¦