ATLANTIC MINE — Although he’s retired, Atlantic Mine resident Chris Sturzl spends most of his time working preparing meals throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Sturzl got started in the kitchen as a teenager working at a pizza parlor, and that quickly led to full time work before he began passing on his experience to others who shared his enthusiasm for the trade.

He spent many years teaching culinary arts in Minnesota.

“He was involved in high school education in the Hennepin School District in the Minneapolis area for most of his career, 20 – 30 years. He came up here to the Copper Country to retire.” said, Executive chef, Eric Karvonen.

As he settled into the area, he found himself involved in the culinary scene here in the Keweenaw, and often times he can be found preparing high profile dinners from the campus of Michigan Tech.

“He’s a great resource up here for a lot of us to have and draw from his experience and learn from him.”Karvonen stated.

More recently he has been involved with the new culinary arts program that was added to Jeffers High School in the past school year.

“He’s done a lot for Jeffers who now has a culinary program and he’s consulted with them. So he remains very active. Retired, I think is just a word for Chef Sturzl. He’s always in the mix doing something. He’s always in the kitchen. And if he’s not in the kitchen somewhere else, he’s probably in the kitchen at home in his garage smoking a brisket or something along those lines.” He also said.

The American Culinary Federation, Upper Michigan Culinarians presented him with the 2018 Chef–of–the–Year honor at its annual dinner in Petoskey recently, over a seven course meal prepared by last year’s named chef.

“I get to hold this trophy for one year, for everybody because these are such a great group of women and men. The chefs that belong to the American Culinary Federation are from all over the Upper Peninsula. They’re some of the most amazing people I’ve ever worked with. We do charities and fund raisers together,” said Sturzl.

Sturzl says that It’s humbling to be recognized by his peers of the ACF, who has members working in restaurants and professional food service throughout the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Michigan, but he enjoys his work with or without the glorification aspect.

“I would do this weather there was an award or recognition or not.”

Next year, when he hands the trophy to a colleague, he too will be preparing that dinner for his peers.