Mike Fennelly started his career as an art director and designer. In 1985 he decided that his cooking always made him happy. Fast forward to 1990, after culinary training and apprenticeships, he became the executive chef of SantaCafé in Santa Fe, New Mexico. While there he wrote “East meets Southwest”, and Mimi Sheraton of the New York Times listed the restaurant as one of her Top 50 Restaurants of the Year.
In 1992 he moved to New Orleans to open Mike’s on the Avenue, just across the street from the Federal Courthouse where then Governor Edwin Edwards was on trial. The restaurant was the “IN” place to be. Great Chefs Television was based just down the street and taped 3 dishes at Mike’s on the Avenue for their Great Chefs, the Louisiana New Garde series. In 2000, long after Mike’s on the Avenue closed, Chef Mike opened Mecca in San Francisco.
That closed, and in 2009 he and business partner, Vicky Bailey, tried to reopen Mike’s on the Avenue at the same New Orleans location, with limited success. By that time former Governor Edwards was already out of jail, and the courthouse and neighborhood were just like every other courthouse and neighborhood, without the sensational trials