Chef Mike Haggerty, a Chicago native, grew up in a very traditional Italian family. From an early age he learned the importance of from-scratch food and the power it has to bring family and friends together. As he grew so did his passion for culinary arts, and at 16 he started working in pizza joints where he honed the skills that would later get his pizza named as the 21 Best Pizzas in Chicago by Chicago Magazine. He had originally planned on going to school for finance, but the kitchen called to him. The kitchen was the center, the heart and the soul of his Italian upbringing, and he made the decision to answer the call.
Chef Mike attended Robert Morris University Culinary school, and at only 23 years old, became one of the youngest executive chefs in the industry. He worked at Eddie Merlot’s Prime Steakhouse as well as Eagle Brook Country Club before he was named executive chef at Zapatista. It was at Zapatista where he met his future Sea Salt co-owner Keith Zust. And it wasn’t long before these two culinary titans began plans to open their own restaurant.
In his spare time, Chef Mike enjoys golfing, skiing, trying new restaurants and tapping into other chefs for inspiration. His dishes may be influenced by the French and inspired by Americans. But his heart and his passion for food resides in his grandmother’s Italian kitchen.