He’s progressed from dishwasher to fryer to the saute’ station, grill station and wheel position, dabbled in baking and now creates his favorite line of “rustic American” entrees, “where flavor and freshness is the primary concern.” Rockwell’s Restaurant chef Mike Stigler is a stickler for detail and satisfying the customer, “Providing Shorehaven residents and their guests the best experience that it can be.”

chef mike2“Food is one of the most personal things you can make someone. You’re earning their trust in providing it. I take this responsibility very seriously.”

A Waukesha native and the youngest of nine, Stigler started in the food business at Waukesha’s Poppin’ Fresh Pies at the age of 15, joined the Marines after high school, and learned about war, starvation, and a brutal lawless environment during the Operation Restore Hope initiative in Somalia, Africa. He returned to the U.S. “Much more appreciative of the good life we live here.” After a few cooking, managerial and chef experiences, he applied at Shorehaven, and was immediately taken by “the family atmosphere here.” “People were just polite and kind from the beginning,” said the chef. “Right away, they were nice to me as a person.”

Stigler’s primary goal is to “truly make a difference in the quality of life for these residents, while I improve my quality of life, too.” “I take a great sense of pride in what I do… Hospitality is the name of the game, whether you’re open to the public or not.”

Staff sent meal surveys, invited residents to a food club, and welcomed input on monthly menus. “The residents said they didn’t want frozen veggies, so we don’t serve them. They wanted Brussel sprouts and parsnips, so we’re providing those, and we’re glad to do it.”

The chef said he treats his staff as individuals, with their own unique skills and talents. “We work to make a positive impact on our residents’ day. We come to the table making a difference.”

And this spring, Stigler is raising vegetable seedlings in his basement, and can’t wait to turn the soil in his 55’ x 30’ backyard garden. There’ll be fresh beans, peas, tomatoes and peppers on the menu, and residents are growing their own vegetables in a campus plot to share with Rockwell’s cuisine.

Rockwell’s Restaurant is located within Lake Terrace independent living on the Shorehaven Campus. The restaurant and neighboring Rosencrans Pub is open to residents and their families, corporate members, volunteers and staff only. Call 262 354 1365 to make a reservation for lunch or dinner.