Michael Roussel was born in New Orleans in 1938. He became a busboy, then a waiter at Brennan’s on Bourbon Street, and led the procession carrying chairs, silverware, linens and dishes to the new restaurant on Royal Street in 1956. He worked his way up to head waiter and maitre d’ before going into the army and serving in Vietnam. He was assigned to work with the former chef at the Antler’s Hotel in Colorado Springs, and went to Cook & Bakers School at Fort Lee in Virginia, graduating with honors, and was promoted to Head of Mess at Fort Carson, Colorado.
After discharge, he returned as First Apprentice to Chef Paul Blange at Brennan’s. When the Brennan family split their properties, he moved to become chef at Commander’s Palace for 5 years, before returning to Brennan’s on Royal as executive chef in 1974 where he remained for the next 30 years.
Great Chefs Television had worked with him on the Chef’s Charity and he was one of the first chefs to be featured in the early 1980’s on the PBS series, Great Chefs of New Orleans. Later he prepared Bananas Foster for 12,000 people at President Reagan’s second inaugural in 1985, and in 1988, prepared Creole food for Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan. He retired from Brennan’s in early 2005 and passed away in mid-2005, just before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
Brennan’s reopened earlier in 2015 by Ralph Brennan, and “Chef Mike’s” kitchen still hums today like he has never left.