Michael Kopfman

Executive Chef, Dream Nashville’s Stateside Kitchen

The communal aspect of food has always been an important part of Michael’s life. Growing up as part of a large extended family in a small town in Northern Ohio, all family get-togethers have revolved around setting of the table and eating together. Michael began his culinary career in 2000 at the Stadium bar and grill in Oxford, Ohio while attending Miami University. Although his passion for food dates well before this, it was at this time he realized it was something he was passionate about. After graduating from Miami with a degree in Business Marketing, Michael went to work for several companies in Cincinnati in different Marketing and Financial capacities. During his short career in the business world, Michael realized the slower pace and regularity of each day was just not for him. He left the 9-5 life behind and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where he graduated with an associate degree in Culinary Arts in 2005. Michael was recruited and hired by The Hillstone Restaurant Group, a group that owns and operates more than 40 restaurants in 13 states. He started his professional culinary career at the Rutherford Grill in Napa Valley, California as a Manager in Training. The next 5 years saw Michael moving to Los Angeles, CA, Newport Beach, CA, Scottsdale, AZ and Dallas, TX. Over these years with Hillstone, Michael worked first as an Assistant Kitchen Manager, and then was promoted after only 9 months to Kitchen Manager. Each restaurant provided different volumes of business from $5 Million to $10 Million annually, where Michael gained experience in ordering, inventorying, food cost management, hiring, training, scheduling and managing the guests experience from one of the most successful restaurant companies in the country.

After 5 years with Hillstone, Michael took the opportunity to help turn around a Dallas restaurant owned by local Athletes, Brett Hull and Mike Madano of the Dallas Stars NHL team. Michael was given free reign to re-write the menu, and brought a made-from-scratch approach that helped to greatly increase the success and profitability of the company. During this time, he also cooked several private meals and parties for professional athletes and celebrities in Dallas.

Michael then accepted a consulting job that took him to Norman, Oklahoma. This job consisted of advising on restaurant design, equipment purchase and layout, menu design and costing, and ingredient sourcing for a new concept opening in the college town. From this experience, he gained extensive knowledge of restaurant construction, licensing and permits.

After nearly 8 years away from Ohio, Michael and his wife decided it was time to come home to the area he loved most, to be close to extended family and start a family of their own. Michael was fortunate to find a job with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants in Columbus where he could continue to learn and develop his skills as a chef and grow as a person. Working first as a sous chef at the Cap City Diner in Grandview, a restaurant grossing $5 Million annually, then being promoted to Executive Sous Chef of the Gahanna Cap City Diner, has allowed Michael to experience the Columbus food scene over his 3 years with the company. With his priceless education in culinary arts and business, extensive experience in many kitchens across the country, and a passion for the culinary world and entrepreneurship, it made sense that Michael follows his dream and opens his own restaurant. In May of 2014, Jobu Ramen was born bringing made from scratch Ramen to the Columbus area. Jobu opened to much fanfare, getting positive write ups in local media publications, as well as a few national posts like Eater. Even with the positive feedback from media and guests, Jobu was not meant to be and Michael sold the business in the beginning of 2015.

After over 20 months of creating, building, and operating Jobu, Michael decided to step away from direct operations and utilize his talents and knowledge of the industry in a different capacity. He began working for The Wasserstrom company in restaurant equipment and smallwares sales. Over time, he has learned the ins and outs of the business; forecasting orders, logistics of moving product into and out of warehouses, building new client relationships, and maintaining existing ones. Now focusing exclusively on equipment, Michael has found an opportunity to utilize all his accumulated knowledge to the benefit of his clients. Michael is able to work with CAD and architects to design a layout, work with the culinary team to design a kitchen with equipment that works for the menu, work with vendors to secure the needed equipment and have it set up to deliver when needed, and work with the client to make sure the vision they have for their project is delivered correctly, on time, and billed when they are satisfied with it.

In his spare time, Michael enjoys spending time with his Wife of 9 years, and 2 children, working in the yard or garden, and watching movies. He also plays drums in a local Columbus band, The Pig Circus, performing mostly original music.