Chef Michael Ritenour

Executive Chef Michael Ritenour

Chef Michael Ritenour has been at Massanutten Resort for 22 years
“Here at Massanutten Resort my most essential item in the kitchen is people.”

picture of Chef Mike in Pizza Kitchen| Taste of Blue Ridge

Chef Mike at Massanutten’s Basecamp

Chef Michael Ritenour is the Executive Chef at the newly opened Campfire Grill, which is located in Massanutten Resort just 15 minutes from Harrisonburg, Virginia. He got his degree at the Baltimore International Culinary Arts Institute where he was classically trained in French and Italian. Chef Mike joined the Massnutten team in 1995 and has been happy as the Executive Chef for over 20 years. Campfire Grill serves many southern dishes, which change seasonally. Camp stove chili, chicken dumplings, campfire pouches, and skillets are just a few favorites served at the scenic mountain setting. Just make sure to save room for the very popular S’mores skillet dessert! Campfire Grill has over 50 specialty and craft beers, which are both local and international, as well as some very unique wines.

Foodie Bites
My favorite cuisine to cook – French
My most essential item in the kitchen is: People

picture of Campfire Grill Steak and Virginia Cocktails| Taste of Blue Ridge

Campfire Grill Steak and Flight of Virginia inspired Cocktails

Was there a lot of cooking at home when you were a child?
“Yes there was. It was a hobby of my fathers and that’s kind of how the whole thing got started. I would help him with dinner parties for his friends, getting exposed to it early on.”

I see that you became Executive Chef at age 20 right out of school, how was that transition for you?
“It was hard, I was nowhere near ready for it. It was all part of the experience of learning and growing. I was very ambitious at that age.”

What brought you to Massanutten Resort?
“My wife is the sous chef at the country club in town, their chef is friends with the manager who works here, and they were looking for someone. 20 years later I’m still here.”

Who or what inspired you to become a Chef?
“I had an uncle who is a chef, and so was my father. I think it’s a combination of being exposed at a young age and genetics from family members.”

picture of Campfire Grill Smore Martini

Infamous S’Mores Martini

Describe to me your management and leaderships styles.
“Initially I was definitely the classic Chef type, fairly nasty. It was kind of effective but that style does it work in this day and age, I still have it in me when I need it but for the most part it’s a modern more relaxed approach.”

What styles have you brought into the kitchen based your life experiences?
“Well I grew up in the west, in Colorado so South Western type food is definitely an influence. I spent a lot of time around the Chesapeake Bay, so seafood is also very influential. I am also classically trained in French and Italian and that still a big part of what I do. So if anything it’s more of the classic influence that I bring with me.”

What’s your favorite style to work with?
“My favorite stylist still classic French, I don’t use it as much anymore but it’s probably so my favorite.”

picture of SMore Dessert

Campfire Grill S’more Dessert

I see that you create the menus for the restaurant, how do you go about developing a menu, seasonally?
“I basically make a blueprint and I know the things that have to be there. Then I get the Chefs from each restaurant and get them involved in the menus so that they have an influence over what they’re making.”

With food trends changing so rapidly these days, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the food world?
“Mostly with going out to eat and the Internet. I’d say that we are a little behind as far as trends, we have the ability to look at others. The resort being that it’s back in Virginia, we are not as cutting edge, whatever used to be cutting-edge is what we’re doing.”

The fastest growing resort in the Shenandoah Valley, plan to visit Massanutten Resort. Visit for a night or a week! Enjoy their Grapes and Hops night each Thursday.