Interview: Chef Michael Schulson of Florida's Monkitail

Contributor
'I always felt safe and at home in the kitchen'
Richard Basch

Hollywood, Florida is home to Monkitail, an elegant japanese restaurant inside Hollywood's Diplomat Resort. 44-year-old Chef Michael Schulson, a Philadelphia-based restaurateur who has also participated in two TV series, opened the Japanese-style gastropub in 2017.

The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking?

Chef Michael Schulson: My grandmother was an amazing cook and I loved to spend time with her in the kitchen. She spoke very little English so that was such an amazing time we could spend together without talking but expressing ourselves through the dishes we prepared. I always felt safe and at home in the kitchen.

Do you have a specialty dish?

My go-to is spaghetti with meatballs and sausage in gravy.

Do you prefer a particular style of cooking?

Simple and clean. I don’t cook with butter and I love fish.

What kind of atmosphere do you create in the kitchen?

Comfortable but intense. Everyone should feel at ease but should also feel the pressure from the amount of covers we are about to do.

What do you look for when you hire other chefs to assist you in the kitchen?

I always ask about hobbies. People who played on team sports have an inate ability to help without having to ask “how can I help."

Have I missed anything that you feel is important that you would like to add?

I am a trained chef by trade and primarily focus on the business aspect of our company most the time. Having over 700 employees, business partners, seven restaurants and five more in the works, I unfortunately don’t get to spend as much time in the kitchen as I would like.

Have you won any awards?

The restaurants have won many awards with the most recent being Monkitail being named the Best New Restaurant in South Florida 2017 by the Sun Sentinel as well as USA Today’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Hotel Restaurant, as well. Awards are all about the team and I have an amazing team around me.

  • Esquire’s “Chefs to Watch"
  • Harp & Crown - One of the “Most Beautiful Restaurants” by Eater National
  • Double Knot
    • “Three Bells” frm The Philadelphia Inquirer
    • “2016 Best New Restaurant” frm Philadelphia Magazine
    • One f the “15 biggest restaurant openings of 2016” by Zagat
  • Monkitail - One of the “Top Six places to Taste Asian Fusion” by Bon Appetit

What is your favorite spice? 

Cumin. It goes well with Asian and Mexican Food as both are my favorite.

What keeps you in cooking?

My passion for food, making people happy and the fear of failure.

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