Kaizen (改善) is the Japanese word for “continual improvement” and this philosophy guided Executive Chef Michael Jordan on his culinary journey from his grandmother’s kitchen to 8 years working with Emeril Lagasse, then as chef/owner of the renowned and beloved Las Vegas restaurant, Rosemary’s. Luckily for us, he has brought his incredible talent and leadership to El Gaucho Bellevue.
Michael grew up in In Iowa and after starting college he quickly realized that his path led elsewhere and his mother urged him to pursue a career as a chef. “From a young age, I found kitchens to be a comfortable and safe environment. I enjoy how a restaurant becomes your second home and the staff becomes family.” He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and then returned to the Midwest to extern at Printer’s Row in Chicago under Chef Michael Foley, a pioneer in Midwest regional cuisine. After graduation, Michael and his future wife and fellow chef, Wendy, traveled around Europe before landing in New Orleans where Michael began his work with Emeril Lagasse. Michael began at Emeril’s, then opened NOLA, came back to Emeril’s and as Executive Chef opened Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House in the MGM Grand in 1995. “Emeril really can be credited with starting the whole chef craze. None of us were used to television cameras in the kitchen. But he had a vision, and he knew what he needed to do to get there.”
Four years after arriving in Las Vegas and leading the kitchen at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Michael and Wendy Jordan fulfilled a shared dream when they opened their own restaurant, Rosemary’s, named for Michael’s mother. Rosemary’s was consistently voted “Best Gourmet Restaurant” in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Annual Readers Poll and in 2007, Chefs Michael & Wendy were voted “Restaurateurs of the Year” by The Nevada Restaurant Association. The restaurant was featured in Bon Appetit, FOOD & WINE, Gourmet, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Epicurious and others. Michael and Wendy also cooked at the James Beard House in 2000. Some of Michael’s classic dishes from Rosemary’s menu included Hugo’s Texas BBQ with Maytag Blue Cheese Cole Slaw, Pan Fried Sweetbreads (one of Michael’s favorites!) with French Green Lentils, Apple Smoked Bacon and Onion Coulis, Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop with Hoppin’ John and Creole Mustard Reduction Sauce, Seared Sea Scallops with Parsnip Potato Puree, Apple Cider Beurre Blanc, Crispy Prosciutto and Fried Parsnip Strips, Coconut Bread Pudding with Toasted Almonds, Dark Chocolate Sauce and Coconut Sorbet. Rosemary’s closed in 2011 after more than 12 years of delighting Las Vegas residents, visitors and restaurant media with its award-winning cuisine and warm hospitality.
Chef Michael served on the Program Advisory Board of Directors at the Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts, has successfully completed the first level exam of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He comes to El Gaucho Bellevue after five years teaching at The Seattle Culinary Academy to lead the largest of the four El Gaucho restaurants.
Despite all the professional accolades and accomplishments, Michael says his proudest achievement is his family. “I have been married to my wonderful wife, Wendy, for 25 years and we have two children, Ben and Sarah, as well as two dogs, Max and June. Family is very important to me.” They love cooking together and Michael enjoys gardening, exercising, brewing beer, hiking and camping.
We are excited about welcoming Michael’s warmth and talent into our El Gaucho family and watching him make his mark on the menu with his boldly flavored cooking style. Cheers to Michael and more Kaizen at El Gaucho Bellevue!