PASSION : Magazine January/February 2018 Issue - Page 7

Michael Ponzio — executive chef Medinah Country club

Since starting at Medinah, Michael and his team have worked hard to bring Real Food to the members. The first project to start the process was examining all of the ingredients used on their menus. Chef changed the steaks used to an antibiotic and hormone free, humanely killed beef. He introduced Amish chickens and natural Duroc pork to the menus and eliminated all frozen fish. Those improvements alone received such great feedback and interest that he wanted to keep building.

He then started looking at what they could do in house. The culinary team began tapping trees to harvest 100% pure maple syrup. They built a 900-square foot, all-natural garden for the freshest produce possible. They also built a USDA certified chicken coop that houses 40 hens to produce eggs daily for the breakfast menus. Last year the culinary team began to make their own red wine vinegar used in many of the recipes. As they continued with these experiences, more and more projects came to fruition.

One of Michael’s strongest beliefs on food is that it should be real. He believes being healthy isn’t about fad diets and the latest trends, but about respecting and paying attention to the products you consume.

Gone are the days where the only salumi you could find are made from cheap cuts of meat and loaded with nitrates. Fish doesn’t have to be mass farmed and there is a large number of great varietals to chose from every season.

Michael believes that if we take a great piece of beef, not pumped with saline, hormones and other enhancers, pay attention to what the cow is fed and how it is raised to slaughter, we shouldn’t have to add anything but salt to make it taste fantastic. That is Real Food and that is what the Medinah kitchen prides itself on.

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Chef Michael Ponzio fell in love with the traditional culinary experience of Italian dining at a very young age and received his education in Culinary Arts at Kendall College in Chicago. In 2002, he joined the award-winning team at Spiaggia as a sous-chef working closely with Tony Mantuano.

Michael mastered the Chicago culinary scene at restaurants including Volare, Cenitare and Rosebud Restaurant Group; where he worked as the Director of Culinary Operations.

In 2011 Michael authored a cookbook, CIBO: Anybody’s Guide to Italian Cooking

Michael Ponzio

of medinah country club

Medinah, IL

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