Ouita Michel, Owner
Since 2001, when Ouita Michel and her husband, Chris, opened the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Ky., she has made locally grown ingredients a priority in her world-class cuisine. Michel’s restaurants have purchased almost $3 million of Kentucky-grown meats, dairy and produce. She was a James Beard Foundation Award nominee as Outstanding Restaurateur, and Best Chef in the Southeast. Michel and her restaurants are regularly featured in media such as The New York Times, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Food Network and Cooking Channel.
Ouita Michel is a member of Slow Food USA; Les Dames d’Escoffier; community supper coordinator for Midway Christian Church; board member of FoodChain, a non-profit food incubator in Lexington, Ky.; and Hindman Settlement School, which is dedicated to enriching Appalachian culture. She is a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a statewide citizens group. Michel is an alumna of the James Beard Chefs Boot Camp, for chefs who work to improve the world’s food systems. Honors include the Fayette Alliance Agricultural Excellence Award and Bluegrass Tomorrow’s most prestigious honor, the Josephine Abercrombie Award, given to a person who improves the quality of life in the Bluegrass. Ouita, Chris and their daughter, Willa, live in Midway.
Frank Bickel, General Manager at Smithtown at West Sixth
Frank’s food service career began in 1976 working for his uncle and cousin at the neon-marked house of cheap eats Burger and Shake on New Circle Road in Lexington.
“I was ready to make fries or shakes, but my uncle pointed me to the garbage can. ‘Can’t do anything on the inside unless you can keep the outside clean,’ he said.”
In August 1983, the avid sports fan moved to Los Angeles to be near the 1984 Olympic Games. While there, Frank worked several food-service jobs on the West Coast, including a gig with a cousin’s catering business. Cheers Catering provided food for awards shows and movie premieres such as Black Hawk Down, Snow Dogs and the Country Music Awards.
After a career in the textbook industry, Frank joined Ouita Michel’s team in 2010 as manager of the newly opened Windy Corner. Smithtown Seafood on West Sixth was added to Frank’s roster.
Customers who want to talk sports should introduce themselves to Frank. A fan of all sports, he favors the NFL, track and field and the University of Kentucky. He’s a horse racing fan and has been to numerous Kentucky Derbys and visited many of the nation’s storied tracks, including Arlington, Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Saratoga. He’s not just a spectator. “I also like to throw a ball, swim, dive, shoot hoops — I like the play time,” Frank said.
Frank and his wife, Annette, live in Lexington with their children, Gracie and Charlie.
Agnes Teresa Marrero Rosa, Chef at Smithtown at West Sixth
Chef Agnes Marrero Rosa was a long way from her native Puerto Rico when she happened upon Lexington's restaurant scene. But cooking was then, and still is, close to her heart.
"That is my passion," she says, "to cook for family and friends!"
Agnes, who also enjoys reading and dancing, says cooking was a skill she learned as a child.
“My mother taught me to cook at an early age.”
Agnes attended culinary school in Puerto Rico and earned a culinary and hotel administration degree. Then she was offered an opportunity to participate in a program through the Culinary Institute of America. After she completed the program she worked as sous chef under Chef Juan Carlos Vicens at Club Nautico in Puerto Rico.
On a trip to Kentucky to visit family in Somerset, she toured Lexington. After seeing one of Jonathan Lundy’s restaurants, she decided she’d like to work there. Lundy hired her and later recommended Agnes to Ouita Michel.
Agnes started working at Smithtown Seafood in 2013.
“I love the people at Smithtown, the restaurant concept and the principle of sustainability,” she says.
Tali Schroeder, Sous Chef Smithtown Seafood at West Sixth
Tali Schroeder joined the Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants in 2015 as a culinary team member at Woodford Reserve Catering. She has worked at the Holly Hill Inn, Fasig-Tipton and the Midway Bakery and Cafe prior to accepting the sous chef position at Smithtown Seafood.
Growing up, Tali and her mother baked up a storm for every holiday, birthday and special occasion that her family celebrated. Some of her fondest memories are of experimenting with food. When Tali was in college, she branched out from baking to cooking. “Perpetually faced with mediocre cafeteria food and lack of transportation, my friends and I would find ways to take what was served to us and transform it into something completely different in our dorm room kitchen.”
As a downtown Lexington resident, Tali has always enjoyed the atmosphere at West Sixth Brewing and the collaboration with Smithtown Seafood and non-profit group FoodChain, so when the opportunity arose she quickly accepted the position of sous chef at Smithtown. Her playful personality and broad smile make an immediate impact on guests and teammates alike. We are pleased to have her leadership and creativity on our team.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
OF OUITA MICHEL RESTAURANTS
Visit ouitamichel.com to learn more about the Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants, or click any of the links below to view that restaurant's website.