Chef Chris Michanco
Executive Chef at the Bavarian Inn Resort & Brewing Co.
A new twist on fine dining at a first class resort
“My thing is trying to break the stereotype of fine dining and bring in ‘younger’ flavors.”
Chris Michanco is the new Executive Chef of Shepherdstown WV’s Bavarian Inn. Chef is taking the helm after serving as sous chef at the luxury Four Diamond resort. Chef Chris represents a new face on the Blue Ridge fine dining scene and offers a different take on using locally sourced ingredients.
Guilty Pleasure Snack / Favorite Meal: Any type of spicy wing – a taste he inherited from his dad. “Just something I liked as a kid. I guess I just liked the sweating part of it.” Every big holiday and event, the chef’s dad would make wings for the occasion. Naturally, they were Chef Chris’ favorite meal as a kid.
Most Essential Item in the Kitchen: “I’d probably say a sharp knife. I own a Wusthof knife. It has a couple of holes (in the blade) so nothing sticks,” says Chef. “It’s basically a 6” vegetable knife, but it can also be used for other things. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone who uses it loves it. And it was the first gift my wife gave me when we first started dating.
The one condiment/herb/spice you can’t live without: “Besides hot sauce?” jokes Chef Chris. “If we’re going herbs, definitely thyme. Any time you do fish, use thyme. A sous chef at Hollywood Casino introduced me to that pairing.”
From Casino Food Runner to Executive Chef
Chefs always seem to have an interesting backstory, and Chef Chris is no exception. His culinary path started later in life. After graduating from high school, “I played some baseball and washed out in college,” says Chris. “I came home (to the Eastern WV Panhandle) and needed to find a job.”
“I started as a food runner for the Hollywood Casino buffet,” continues Chef Chris. “Two months after starting there, my mom died. I found that restaurants were like a family. They (the staff) took me in and took me under their wing. The chefs at Hollywood gave me guidance – and pretty much put a foot up my butt. They saw I had a work ethic.”
From the casino buffet, Chef Chris moved over to the casino’s high end steakhouse Final Cut. After learning as much as he could from the chefs at the casino, they encouraged Chris to continue his career elsewhere. Chef’s wife Samantha (who’s also in hospitality at Bavarian Inn) also supported his career choice. “I went to Bavarian as a line cook and two and a half years later, I’m the Executive Chef.”
Like other Taste of Blue Ridge Chefs, Michanco uses locally sourced produce and proteins, but likes to put a twist on their preparation. “Call it my younger knuckle-headedness,” he laughs, “But it seems like everyone likes to push the same things. And I do like to do the local type of style food. But we like to also preserve locally sourced products and use them out of season. It sets The Bavarian apart from other restaurants.”
Last July, Chef Chris was in the sous chef slot for Taste of Blue Ridge’s Root to Table dining event in 2020. This year he’s Executive Chef, showcasing his skills to enthusiastic “foodies”. Michanco wants to update the image of fine dining with a more modern presentation of classic dishes. “There’s a stereotype about fine dining – that it’s for an older crowd and there’s a preference to certain foods and the way they are prepared,” says the chef. “I want to break the stereotype and bring in those ‘younger’ flavors and more modern plating.”