Within his career as a chef, Mike Johnson of Cyrano's and Boogaloo is a bit of a jack of all cuisines. This is apparent just from browsing through the restaurants' respective menus: from Cubano, Creole and Caribe at Boogaloo to American tapas and elaborate desserts at Cyrano's, it's clear that chef Johnson likes to not only try his hand at everything, but also to perfect everything he tries.
Johnson studied at New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He has worked in France, Napa and L.A., at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and even at Emeril's in New Orleans. Likewise, being executive chef at one restaurant isn't enough of a creative outlet for Johnson: He continues to challenge himself, even going so far as to purchase "the world's coolest smoker."
"It's the same smoker that Pappy's has," he explains. "So I'm trying to become the barbecue master right now. I'm going to barbecue school in Georgia next month." This "barbecue school" will be taught by Myron Mixon of Jack's Old South Barbecue and Food Network fame. Johnson has paid Mixon to let him stay at his home in Georgia for a weekend, and he plans to learn everything Mixon has to teach about barbecue.
This ambition and perfectionism might make chef Johnson appear rigid or serious. It couldn't be more to the contrary. Although he does absolutely take his job seriously, he's laid back. He relaxes by cycling 30 miles every day, a fact his deeply tanned complexion backs up, and his easy-going, fun-loving personality shows through in his Mid-America-Emmy-award-winning series on KMOV, "You've Been Served," where he makes surprise stops at St. Louis homes and whips up a meal using solely the ingredients he finds when he gets there.
"You've Been Served"
When he's not busy with one of his two executive chef positions, his rigorous cycling schedule and showing up at strangers' homes to cook for them, you can find Johnson spending time with his wife and their three children.
What's next for Johnson? His newfound fascination with barbecue could lead to a new barbecue-centric restaurant, but he's not making any promises just yet.