Back in Big Canoe: Every Meal is a Feast With Chef Michael

When Clubhouse Chef Michael Gogolin was just starting his culinary career, he adopted a dining philosophy that every meal should be a cherished, celebratory meet-up. Every day is a holiday and every dining experience is a feast.

That passion for communal dining has its roots in Big Canoe, where Michaels parent’s, Pat and Elton Gogolin, vacationed with Michael here in the ’90s. During those visits, cookouts, dinner gatherings, and fellowship around the table were a staple of their time in Big Canoe.

“Dining is a celebration of coming together, with food and friends and family, regardless of whether it’s just a Tuesday lunch or an anniversary dinner,” Gogolin says. “That’s something I experienced here when I was in Big Canoe as a kid. And it’s something I instill in my cooks, my chefs, and everyone. If we ever do a Sloppy Joe Tuesday, they had better be the best Sloppy Joes we can make.”

Rather than making Sloppy Joes, the culinary leader of the Clubhouse has programmed a well-received series of themed food nights that have included the King and Queen’s Surf or Turf, Barbecue With a View, Seafood Soiree and Southern Comfort. Featuring live food stations and delivered at a single fixed price, these dining experiences reflect Chef’s personal food passions as he works to build the capabilities of his new kitchen staff.

In the years since his family started visiting Big Canoe, Chef Michael worked in everything from eateries that specialize in comfort food to fine dining establishments. He opened his own farm-to-table restaurant in Woodstock; developed the food program and oversaw a cigar pairing menu at the Buckhead hotspot Whisky Mistress; and honed his executive chef skills in everything from gourmet grocery stores to high-end resorts. That range – and a deep understanding of how to best manage a kitchen staff – will serve him well in his return to Big Canoe.

“Our team is here to provide top-tier food to Property Owners,” Chef Michael says. “While we onboard and train our new kitchen staff, the live staged menu is the best option for delivering a wide range of selections with consistently great quality.”

This setup also allows Chef Michael to present a dizzying variety of food. For example, the combined offerings of the four themed dinner menus for the week of Aug. 7 include more than 80 different food items to sample. Along with providing so many options, the format also allows Chef Michael to turn the Clubhouse into a testing ground to better determine the tastes and preferences of Clubhouse guests. What he learns will factor into what he serves in the future.

After he has served the themed menus for several weeks, Chef Michael estimates that he will have a large enough “sample size” that he can adopt some of the most popular dishes from the themed dining experiences as staples of future a la carte menus.

The opportunity to share his passion with a community where he has deep roots is a gratifying bonus, Chef Michael says.

“Food is something universal, like music, that everyone needs and enjoys,” Chef Michael says. “But there are hundreds of ways to do this. And not everything is for everyone. My mission, in addition to building and training our kitchen staff, is to learn our Property Owner’s tastes so we can deliver the highest standard possible as we move forward and grow.”

To make you reservation at the Clubhouse, either call 706-268-1253 or use OpenTable on the POA website.