Chef’s Table at Rocket City, Redstone Gateway's newest restaurant, is unlike any other. Settle in to your own private table right in the middle of the action, yes in the middle of our kitchen. The Chef's table allows for a unique dining experience featuring the cuisine of Chef Michael Northern. You can order the regular menu at our chef's table or dine on Chef Michael's whimsy. Either way, you are in for a memorable evening. Sit back and take in the action of a professional kitchen in the heat of the dinner rush while being spoiled by your host. Call the restaurant for reservation details.
Michael’s career in the food service industry began 1971 when he began working at a Chicago neighborhood delicatessen by the name of Hemmingway’s Moveable Feast located near Lincoln Park Zoo on Chicago’s North Side. Within two weeks, Michael was promoted to become the night manager, closing the business and doing the books nightly. Eventually the owner, Donald B. Kaplan, pursued the prospect of opening a restaurant in Chicago’s new upscale shopping center, Water Tower Place. Michael transferred to the new restaurant, which was named D. B. Kaplan’s Delicatessen, and assumed the role of kitchen manager. The restaurant was a smashing success and, eventually, Donald Kaplan sold his percentage of ownership and pursued other interests. Michael stayed on, working with the team that formed and created the Levy Restaurants, nurturing it into the world-class company that it remains to this day.
From the early years, the company excelled at creating unique and fresh concepts, each tailored to fit a specific location and each concept unique unto itself. Some of these businesses included Chestnut Street Grill, Hillary’s a Chicago Bar, Randall’s for Ribs, Bistro 110 (a double Ivy Award winning restaurant), Laura’s, Spiaggia, Café Spiaggia, acclaimed foodservice at Walt Disney World and even a restaurant in partnership with Steven Spielberg called Dive!
The company was able to parlay its success in restaurants into an exciting new and emerging business opportunity – fine dining food service at many brand new sports venues, focusing on the private clubs and luxury skyboxes rather than on the general concessions. So excellent were the company’s efforts at delivering exceptional products and service in these unique environments that they soon gained an unassailable stronghold in this emerging sector of the industry.
Such were the results that the company was soon creating and managing foodservice operations at Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Lakers, Hollywood Park Racetrack and Arlington International Racecourse. Michael worked at Levy Restaurants from 1976 until 1997, and held the role of Senior Vice President and Partner after a run of 21 highly successful years.
In 1997, Michael joined Nordstrom, the leading fashion specialty retailer headquartered in Seattle, Washington to help form a team tasked with upgrading and improving the food service in their numerous stores across the country. When Michael joined Nordstrom, the company operated restaurants in 52 stores and food service sales stood at 53 million dollars per year. Over time, the Restaurant Division team developed many new concepts to more appropriately serve their customers and grew in size and capabilities, currently achieving 250 million dollars a year in sales.
More importantly to Nordstrom, the restaurants serve as destination dining for upwards of 13 million customers a year in the restaurants and 23 million customers in the specialty coffee businesses. These concepts include Classic Café, Nordstrom Grill, Marketplace Café, Café Bistro, Blue Stove, Sixth & Pine, Ruscello, Habitant Bar, Bistro N and Bazille Restaurants. These restaurants were an important component of the Nordstrom Experience, bringing a sense of community as well as vitality and an energy to each store, clearly differentiating Nordstrom from all other major retailers.
Michael was responsible for all of Nordstrom’s culinary efforts, restaurant division purchasing management, facility design, creation and management of a 3.5 million dollar retail food product portfolio, as well as the attraction and retention of top tier talent. During his time with Nordstrom, Michael authored four Nordstrom Cookbooks which included Nordstrom Friends and Family, Nordstrom Entertains, Nordstrom Flavors and finally, Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook. Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook is now in its fifth printing with over 110,000 copies purchased by loyal customers who had come to appreciate the quality and consistency of Nordstrom’s diverse food offerings.
In spring of 2015, Michael left Nordstrom to join the WJP Restaurant Group as Vice President – Partner and currently resides with his family in Huntsville, Alabama.