A graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Michael opened his first restaurant, Turback’s of Ithaca, at the tender age of 22. The restaurant’s mission combined inventiveness, passionate cooking with local ingredients, and the novel concept of a wine list with exclusively New York regional wines, an achievement recognized nationally. Michael was a locavore before the term existed; his loyalty to small local farmers and use of seasonal local produce helped to spark the local food movement. Wine tasting events and wine dinners inspired interest in a new generation of local wines. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Turback’s “one of the wine-friendliest restaurants in America” and the restaurant was awarded “Best American Wine List” by Restaurant Business Magazine.
Cocktail programs developed in his establishments have influenced the beverage business for over three decades. Michael was among the first to revive and re-imagine vintage formulas, influencing a generation of “craft bartenders,” and elevating mixology to a culinary art.
He is a founding partner in two influential online retail websites, The NEW YORK FIRST Company (newyorkfirst.com), the first department store concept on the Internet, and History Company (historycompany.com), an online source for extraordinary pieces of American history. Michael has been there from the start, amassing a staggering body of knowledge about how to build strong, interesting, effective online and social media presence.
Known for his versatility as a writer, Michael has published over 20 books, on such topics as the ice cream sundae, the banana split, hot chocolate, the partnership of chocolate and coffee, creative barista drinks, artisan cocktails, food-and-cocktail pairing, and Finger Lakes Wine Country. He has developed and produced cookbooks for Cincinnati, Ohio’s Findlay Market, Columbus, Ohio’s North Market, the Ithaca Farmers Market, as well independent restaurants and wineries.