Mike McKay joined Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville as executive chef at the beginning of this year. In that short time, he has done some amazing things with the food we offer in our restaurants and at our banquets. Anyone who has enjoyed a delicous steak dinner at Farraddays’ or sampled some of the locally-grown fare at Calypso’s have tasted Mike’s incredible cooking ability. We thought it would be great to find out some more about his background and share it with you.
I was residing in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was involved in the construction industry. In the mid-80s the residential home construction took a down turn. I had always enjoyed cooking and experimenting with new recipes and decided that I would venture into the F&B field.
Where did you receive your culinary training from?
I attended the British Columbia Institute of Technology and completed an eighteen month course in culinary management. Upon completion of this course, I was accepted into a three year apprentice program that was sponsored by the Canadian government. I completed this at the Pan Pacific Hotel and Spa in Vancouver. I would work for eleven months each year and return to school for one month to write papers and testing. After the three years I was awarded an International Red Seal certificate. This is good internationally.
What did you enjoy about it?
The best part of the training was that during the apprenticeship Vancouver hosted the World’s Fair, and our hotel was the base for the Canadian pavilion. Each day during the seven month exposition we hosted a specific country’s day of recognition. I met many dignitaries and heads of state including Prince Charles and Lady Diana. We served a luncheon for the prince and princess and the British government supplied the place settings that were worth $3500 for a single place setting. We had 400 of these place settings.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
The most enjoyable part of the position is the constant uncertainty. Each day brings new challenges and business levels fluctuate dramatically. The kitchen is like a moving machine that continually needs to be adjusted and manipulated.
If the president planned a trip to Boonville and you were in charge of preparing his meal, what would you make?
First, I would take into account who was dining with the President and what their nationalities were. The question would be put to the President what he would enjoy to dine on? With all these factors in place I would compile a menu for the Presidents entourage to review. I did have the opportunity to cook for President Bill Clinton in the early 90s during his summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in Vancouver.
What is your favorite dish to eat?
I would have to say a rib eye steak with a simple side salad.
What is an interesting fact about you that few people know?
I have a younger brother and sister. My birth date is the 18th. My sister is 2 years and 2 days younger and born on the 20th of the same month. My brother was born six years to the day and also on the 18th of the same month. So we would celebrate three birthdays in two days, two on the 18th and one on the 20th. Go figure.