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Director of Culinary Development
Chef Michael Holleman believes diners today are looking for more than food. They want an event. “It has to be something special: stunning plate presentation, culinary adventure, distinct pairing,” he says.
He also believes diners hanker for a story behind the food that brings the dining experience to life, evidenced by unprecedented consumer interest in foods’ origins before they land on the plate. That’s why InHarvest grains, grain blends, beans and legumes are borne of a passion that extends from farm to fork.
Chef Mike began his culinary career in independent restaurants, where his interest in specialty and heirloom ingredients was born. Today working in the supply side of the industry, he’s free to indulge his passion as he seeks unusual varieties of grains and rice and hand-selects seeds for experimental cultivation.
To consistently offer unique products to customers, that often means sourcing internationally. “When we source a product from overseas, it’s no different from at home,” Chef Mike says. “We don’t buy commodity; instead, we have relationships with farmers and growers, and oftentimes we work with them well before crops are planted, creating contracts that not only serve InHarvest customers, but also the needs of the farm and soil, ensuring sustainability for the farmer and the farm.”
As director of InHarvest’s Culinary Team, Chef Mike is chiefly responsible for shaping the development of new products and introducing new customers to the company’s core products. He’s the primary image-builder with all market segments InHarvest serves, working closely with growers, procurers, suppliers, distributors and other partners to deliver meaningful menu solutions to the nation’s foodservice operations—from casual-dining multi-units to fine-dining independents and from school campuses to U.S. military bases. With his finger on the pulse of evolving diner demands, Chef Mike helps customers remain profitable and competitive with Indian Harvest products.
When he’s not manning the kitchens at InHarvest’s Culinary Center in Bemidji, Minn., Chef Mike traverses the country giving presentations on heirloom cultivation, sustainability in foodservice and whole-grain nutrition issues and trends, as well as cooking demonstrations showcasing the latest menu innovations that capitalize on the uniqueness and high quality of InHarvest products.
A member of the American Culinary Federation, Chefs Collaborative, International Foodservice Editorial Council and Research Chefs Association (RCA), Chef Mike is the current chair of the advisory committee of the Whole Grains Council, part of Boston-based Oldways. He is also the 2012 recipient of the RCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and serves on that organization’s marketing committee.