Chef/owner of Atlanta's Woodfire Grill, Atlanta's leading restaurant for local, seasonal and organic cuisine.
Michael Tuohy is the chef/owner of Woodfire Grill, Atlantas leading restaurant for local, seasonal, and organic cuisine. A 31-year veteran of the restaurant industry, his career began at the age of 15 as a dishwasher at a neighborhood steakhouse in his hometown of San Francisco. Tuohy graduated from Hotel & Restaurant School at City College of San Francisco 1982. In 1985, he joined acclaimed Bay Area chef and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein of the highly acclaimed Square One Restaurant to launch its sister restaurant, Caffe Quadro, an Italian-inspired caffe/enoteca.
Working with Goldstein proved to be a pivotal experience for Tuohy. Goldsteins love of Italian food, as well as other cuisines and cultures of the Mediterranean, was incredibly influential to Tuohys burgeoning culinary philosophy. Square Ones daily changing menus explored the regions of Italy, Southern France, Spain, Greece and North Africa. Goldsteins experience prior to launching her own restaurant included working with the renowned Alice Waters as manager of the Caf at Chez Panisse. Tuohy also had the opportunity to work closely with Joyce Goldsteins son, Evan Goldstein. Evan was the architect of Square Ones award-winning wine program and at 27 was the youngest person to achieve the designation of Master Sommelier.
Armed with a passion for fresh, seasonal cooking, Tuohy came to Atlanta to launch Chefs Caf in 1986. Chefs Caf became known for its eclectic, inventive menu and was frequently tagged as groundbreaking by the local food media. At that time, Chefs Cafe was the only local restaurant that changed its menu frequently and cooked using local and seasonal ingredients. Tuohy brought a California ethos and aesthetic to Atlanta dining that has become commonplace today. While most restaurants were buying their goods from large distributors, Tuohy developed relationships with local farmers who supplied Chefs Cafe with just-picked lettuces and vegetables, an approach that was unheard of in Atlanta in the late 1980s. Tuohy was instrumental in helping to start the Georgia Grown Co-op of local farmers. For the next 15 years, the Co-op would deliver the goods from a dozen local Certified Organic Farms to restaurants and markets around the city. In 1996, after a 10-year run with Chefs Caf, Tuohy closed the restaurant.
He joined Tom Murphy at Murphys restaurant, now considered an Atlanta institution, and retooled Murphys menu, which had a heavy orientation toward soups and sandwiches, to include more appetizers and entrees. This also prompted a shift from lots of convenience and canned type products to sourcing and working with fresh ingredients.
Tuohy left Murphys in 1998 to pursue other opportunities, which included a consulting service for restaurants that offered expertise on operations evaluations and overhauls, menu/recipe development, concept development to opening, feasibility analysis and day-to-day management.
In 2000, Tuohy realized that he missed working with great ingredients on a daily basis to create food that he truly believed in. The prospect of cooking exciting foods that were rooted in tradition and serving appreciative customers lured him to take the leap once again to launch his own restaurant, Woodfire Grill. Woodfire would be a restaurant that would incorporate all of Tuohys experiences and passion for great food. Woodfire, as the name implies, would utilize the time tested methods and techniques of cooking over wood. Woodfire would emphasize the freshest and best locally sourced ingredients and artisan products from around the world and would showcase them in a menu that changed daily as well as seasonally. Finally, in August 2002, Woodfire Grill opened to big crowds and rave reviews. Since its opening, Woodfire Grill has received numerous local and national accolades. Today, Tuohy is an active member of the Slow Food movement, Chefs Collaborative, Georgia Restaurant Association and an active board member of Georgia Organics. He resides in Atlanta with his wife of 19 years, Patti.