Son of a newspaper editor, Michael started his college career at the University of Iowa as a journalism major. To help pay the bills, he started working in the fast paced kitchen of The Airliner, a college hotspot. After moving to Boulder, Colorado to continue his college education, Michael worked at the hometown restaurant The Sink as a way to meet people, make money and get discounts on the best burger in Boulder. Here he realized his passion for food and desire to pursue a culinary career. He landed a job at the well-known Med Restaurant; here he became at ease with the energy of the kitchen and was promoted to Sous Chef.
Following his stint at the Med, Michael began working at a small oyster bar, Jax Fish House, as a line cook. A humbling move, he was eager to learn from Executive Chef and Top Chef Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg. He worked closely with Rosenberg, and while Rosenberg encouraged him to travel to San Francisco or France to continue his development, Michael decided that The Culinary Institute of America was where he could hone his culinary skills.
Michael was quickly accepted as a student of the CIA’s first-ever Advanced Career Experience program. While studying, Ehlert soaked up New York’s culinary culture, tutored writing and graduated at the top of his class.
After graduation Ehlert began as poissonier, or ‘fish cook’, at Brasserie in New York City. Working under Executive Chef Luc Dimnet, he learned classic French techniques and dishes and rose to the position of Sous Chef after just one year.
Looking for more French innovation, Ehlert left Brasserie to become opening Sous Chef for world-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar. In this position he worked closely with Executive Chef Jim Leiken to develop a French brasserie meets American tavern menu and after one year, he was promoted to Executive Sous Chef. Not only did Michael deepen his love for French food at DBGB, but he also fell in love with an up and coming sommelier Jennifer Jaco, to whom he is now married.
In October 2011, Ehlert and Jennifer moved to Dallas. While Jaco made strides in her wine career, Ehlert opened cocktail and food destination The Chesterfield with barman Eddie “Lucky” Campbell. Ehlert featured a new American menu of snacks and dinners anchored in classical technique to compliment the hand-crafted cocktail program.
In the spring of 2012, enticed by the charming bungalow and under-the-radar bistro Campo, Ehlert was hired on as Executive Chef and made the menu his own by focusing on simple, elevated cuisine and developing the concept’s bistro style.
Later in 2012, Ehlert joined Consilient Hospitality as Chef de Cuisine at Hibiscus. During the following year, he worked to develop a progressive concept at Hibiscus based on thoughtful sourcing of Texas produce and grass-fed beef. That summer Hibiscus was awarded four stars in a glowing review in the Dallas Morning News by Leslie Brenner.
Late in 2013, Ehlert moved to the Hotel Lumen to join chef Tim Bevins at The Front Room, where the two collaborated on a new American tavern menu. After Bevins’ departure in June 2014, Ehlert took over as Executive Chef and earned four stars from the Dallas Morning News.
Looking to return to his love of French cuisine, Michael joined The Adolphus in October of 2015 as the Executive Chef of the reimagined, soon-to-reopen French Room, French Room Bar and French Room Salon. “The position of Chef at the French Room is an incredible opportunity to be sure. It carries with it a great debt to the history of the restaurant, the room, the hotel, and our profession. In many ways, what we will see at French Room is the kind of food I’ve been trying to do ever since I came to Dallas five years ago, in fact since I was a young sous chef in Colorado – a cuisine that is forward-thinking, whimsical, informed, and most importantly steeped in the classics. It is the charge of myself and my team to do the research, source the product, and do the work to bring that to fruition for our guests.”