Corporate Chef and Sales Support
Mike Brockman got his start in the foodservice industry (and with Wood Stone) washing dishes and pots and pans after school at, what was then, the only fine dining restaurant in mid-Michigan (The Embers). He soon moved into the kitchen where his love affair with cooking was allowed to blossom. One of the many lessons he learned in that kitchen was the importance of starting with great stock, a concept that has remained a relevant analogy in almost everything he has done since.
Mike earned a B.S. in Biology at Central Michigan University and went on to earn an M.S. in Biological Oceanography at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks. In 1989, he had the life-changing experience of participating in the biological assessment of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. For the next couple of years, he worked as an analytical chemist, both on the North Slope and at the Trans-Alaska pipeline terminal near Valdez. All the while Mike lived in Alaska, he baked. “I was astounded at the price of baked goods in Fairbanks; I was a student and didn’t have enough money to buy bagels, so I learned to make them”. He didn’t stop with bagels, and soon was experimenting with everything from brioche to calzones, pies to pizza, soufflés to stromboli. Mike made his transition from the laboratory back to the kitchen when he got the opportunity to work as a baker at a food co-op in Moscow, ID. “I was so excited to be back in the kitchen, doing something that I loved”.
About a year later (1994), Mike got a call from an old friend (with whom mike had cooked at The Embers) who was involved in a business experiment called Wood Stone. It seemed that these guys had found a better way to build the most primitive piece of cooking equipment known to humankind – the rock. He started with Wood Stone as an oven builder, building the best wood-fired stone hearth ovens anywhere. As Wood Stone’s product line expanded, so did Mike’s opportunities with the company. For about 10 years, Mike held a variety of simultaneous positions with Wood Stone, including: corporate chef, listing coordinator, advertising department, technical writer (manuals and catalogs), fire starter, fire put-er-outer, and more. In 1998, love and marriage took Mike back to the town of his upbringing, Mt. Pleasant Michigan. He continued to work for the company remotely until 2004 when Mike took leave of Wood Stone. He spent the next few years raising his daughter up a bit, remodeling a 120 yr-old house, gardening, camping, and doing some volunteer work for a couple local organizations.
As of 2011, Mike is still living in Michigan, but happily back on the Wood Stone team. “Wood Stone has grown up a lot in the past few years, so I’ve been busy getting up to speed on all the new products and directions that we’re going. Wood Stone doesn’t manufacture average cooking equipment; every different piece is spectacular in some way”.
Mike’s current position with Wood Stone will have him going wherever needed, doing whatever is needed, including (but not limited to): demonstration cooking, sales and service support, trade show staffing, fire starting, fire put-er-outing, etc. He is hopeful that he can help facilitate the expansion of Wood Stone’s demonstration capabilities in the Midwest as well as other points East of the Rockies. “I am thrilled to be back working for a company that has managed to maintain and nurture a culture of excellence in everything that it does; it all goes back to the importance of starting with excellent stock.”
If you see Mike, be sure to ask him about ‘The Pineapple Upside-down Cake Miracle’