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Ernie’s chef opening own restaurant in Stockton

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POSTED August 18, 2014 10:43 p.m.

It appears Ernie’s Food & Spirits may soon be without an important ingredient.

Executive Chef Michael Midgley and his wife, Laci, are set to open their own restaurant along Stockton’s Brickwalk in the Lincoln Center, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Midgley’s Public House will open in November, according to a statement released by Lincoln Center.

“Forever grateful to Lincoln Center and our investors and friends for helping us finally get to fulfill our dream of owning and running our own restaurant,” Laci wrote on Facebook.

While Midgley’s dishes have delighted thousands here in the Central Valley, the Stockton native burst onto the national cooking scene with appearances on Top Chef! Season Two, Cutthroat Kitchen and Knife Fight. He was an episode winner on The Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, sealing his victory with strawberry shortcake cooked on a child-sized Easy Bake oven.

The victory netted the kitchen’s King of Gab $15,500.

Midgley hopes to keep a presence at Ernie’s even after his restaurant opens on Nov. 1, the couple’s target date. With the blessing of owner Dennis Williams and manager Bryan Soria, Midgley was allowed to build the restaurant’s world-class menu.

“I will always be at Ernie’s in some form,” he said, “hopefully.”

Midgley’s Public House will serve American-fusion small plates and shared foods, according to Lincoln Center’s statement.

When they do cut the ribbon, Midgley will have accomplished one of his life’s ultimate goals.

In an interview with The Record in 2012, Midgley said told the reporter his ideal occupation would be “to have my own restaurant in Stockton. I need money. If anyone wants to team up with me, get ahold of me.”

Staying in the kitchen

While Midgley’s ability to cook catapulted him into the national spotlight, his bartending skills may keep him there.

Midgley’s Bloody Heirloom was No. 2 on the California charts in the CHOPPED Best Bloody Mary Brunch contest, as of press time. Fans can vote for their favorite Bloody Mary recipe online at www.nycwffbestbloodymar.org.

Voting ends Aug. 31.

The top-10 vote-getters will be invited back to New York City on Oct. 18 for the final showdown. Once there, the finalists will be judged by local chefs, past contestants and a panel of CHOPPED experts.

Midgley stays true to his roots with his Bloody Heirloom, which includes two parts heirloom tomato consommé; one part Absolut Peppar; half part red wine veal demi; half part Lucille’s Bloody Mary mix; and a squeeze of line.

The ingredients are poured into a shaker – “… and shake, baby,” Midgley said – strained and served in a chilled martini glass. The drink is garnished with a bamboo pick, banana pepper, cocktail onion, lime wedge and olive.

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