A graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Michael opened his first restaurant, Turback’s of Ithaca, at the tender age of 22. The restaurant’s mission combined inventiveness, passionate cooking with local ingredients, and the novel concept of a wine list with exclusively New York regional wines, an achievement recognized nationally. Michael was a locavore before the term existed; his loyalty to small local farmers and use of seasonal local produce helped to spark the local food movement. Wine tasting events and wine dinners inspired interest in a new generation of local wines. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Turback’s “one of the wine-friendliest restaurants in America” and the restaurant was awarded “Best American Wine List” by Restaurant Business Magazine.
Cocktail programs developed in his establishments have influenced the beverage business for over three decades. Michael was among the first to revive and re-imagine vintage formulas, influencing a generation of “craft bartenders,” and elevating mixology to a culinary art.
Known for his versatility as a writer, Michael has published over 25 books, focusing on food, wine, and cocktails. His topics have included the ice cream sundae, the banana split, hot chocolate, the partnership of chocolate and coffee, creative barista drinks, food-and-cocktail pairing, cocktails of Prohibition, Champagne cocktails, the timeless Martini, the cult of Fernet-Branca, the mysteries of Chartreuse, and the golden age of the American nightclub. He has developed and produced cookbooks for Cincinnati, Ohio’s Findlay Market, Columbus, Ohio’s North Market, the Ithaca Farmers Market, as well independent restaurants and wineries.
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