Michael Joseph Shannon grew up in Plainfield, Ill., a small suburb outside of Chicago. With an Italian mother, he was surrounded by great food and was introduced to cooking at a young age. Whether it was preparing for large holiday parties or dinner on a normal weeknight, there was always a deep appreciation for the food they cooked together. Shannon soon realized that cooking was something he was passionate about and decided to pursue it in culinary school.
Shannon decided to go to Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois. While he attended school there, he completely immersed himself into the culinary world. He was the team captain of two American Culinary Federation (ACF) Knowledge Bowl teams that won a gold and silver medal at the regional level. He also became a TA to Chef Timothy Bucci, CMC, and was chosen to be his commis for the ACF Olympic Team Tryouts in 2010. It was during this time that he became a member of the ACF Student Team and went on to win the national championship in 2011.
After winning this prestigious competition, Shannon was hired as a cook, then shortly after, as Sous Chef under Chef Joseph Leonardi, CMC, at the Somerset Club in Boston. Over the next five years, Shannon focused on his cooking techniques and management skills under Leonardi’s guidance, while refining his own culinary vision along the way. Shannon stayed involved in competition while being Sous Chef, competing in the New York Food show twice, winning Best in Show for Best Seafood Presentation. Certification has also been of supreme importance to him, earning his CSC in 2013 and then his CEC in 2016.
In the months before earning his CEC, Chef Leonardi decided to pursue other career opportunities at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., giving Shannon the opportunity to interview for the Executive Chef position at the Somerset Club at the age of 26, which he was then offered. Upon accepting this position, Shannon become responsible for retooling an entirely new kitchen staff, hiring Geoffrey Lanez, CEC, as his Sous Chef and mentoring him in his pursuit on Culinary Team USA, and effectively implementing his own culinary program at the club. During this time, Shannon also went back to school and graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales University.
Shannon has continued to be active in competition, winning a gold medal and best-in-show for an ACF-sanctioned market basket competition held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2018, totaling nine gold medals and three silver medals in his time as a student and professional member within the ACF. Most recently, Shannon won the 2021 USA’s Chef of the Year competition, representing the Epicurean Club of Boston against nine other competitors from across the country.
Shannon also believes strongly in mentorship and giving back to the younger generation of chefs. He believes he is in a unique position, being a young chef himself, to be able to communicate effectively to the next generation and is building mentorship programs to keep his staff motivated and goal-oriented. Shannon is also a lead culinary judge for the NRAEF ProStart National Competition that occurs every year in Washington D.C. Shannon has been lucky to have great mentors in his life and knows how important they are for young chefs. He is honored that he now has the privilege of being that mentor for his cooks and most recently coached one of his cooks in the ACF Student Chef of the Year competition, taking second best in the country in 2022.
Last, Shannon would not be the Chef he is today without his partner Whitney, his family, his friends and the tremendous support he has from his staff at the Somerset Club. This is what gives his life structure and grounds him as he pursues his future goals.