Chef Brian MacKenzie

Brian MacKenzieBorn in Mesa, Arizona in 1970. My parents and my one older brother live in Mississippi. We arrived to Mississippi via the Air Force. My father retired in Mississippi after 25 years of service. Both parents are in the nursing field. My brother is a financial advisor.

I began my career in cooking one summer at the Jersey shore while spending the summer with my uncle, aunt and cousins. Summers in N.J. were a good escape from the Mississippi heat. My first kitchen job took a little convincing with the owner. Once in, I couldn’t get enough of the pace. I worked as much as possible to get as much experience as possible in the fast paced kitchen. Once the summer was over, I moved back to Mississippi to go to college at Mississippi State University. Here, I majored in business administration. During college, I maintained a restaurant job as a cook throughout the remainder of school. The more lucrative waitstaff positions were always tempting, but my goal for a future in restaurants remained with focus on the kitchen.

Creme BruleeAfter graduating, I moved west to Colorado and landed a job in the new Colorado casino industry. Hoping to get a job in management, I toughed out the new industry for about nine months then started looking for other opportunities. The owner of the casino happened to be a restaurateur in Breckenridge, CO. After another barrage of selling myself, I convinced him to have me manage his small restaurant operation at the Breckenridge public golf course. The experience was perfect. After managing this operation, I realized that I lacked a lot of managerial kitchen experience. At the end of the golf season, my fiancée Linda, and I moved to Hyde Park, N.Y. Here, I enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts.

EntreeAfter graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, I landed a job as the Sous Chef at Clifton, The Country Inn, in Charlottesville, VA. I worked under Chef Craig Hartman at Clifton for a year and a half. At this point, my entrepreneurial passion started tugging. I was now ready to venture out on my own. In April 1997, Linda and I found the Pleasant Lake Inn and made New London our new home. We changed the name to the Inn at Pleasant Lake and began a fine dining restaurant in addition to running the ten rooms of the inn. In July of 1999 I was invited to cook a dinner for the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

We have a beautiful daughter, Olivia, 13 years old and a wonderful son, Joshua, 11 years old. We are in our eighteenth summer owning and operating the Inn at Pleasant Lake and just celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary.