Michael Noll was a teen skateboarder who might have gone pro, but an injury redirected him to the restaurant industry. Now he’s the chef-owner of Bardo in Charlotte, NC, but he hasn’t lost his taste for the simple things, and he still finds time to go for a skate between shifts.
BREAKING A SWEAT: SKATEBOARDING
Before cooking I was a pseudo-amateur skateboarder. Something about that sport and just going downtown with 20 of your friends and filming and making videos—it was the biggest sense of freedom and individuality. I don’t throw myself down handrails anymore, but I go out on my Alien Workshop board and do some flip tricks. I have a 5-year-old son, and he’s into skateboarding so we go out on Sundays and scoot around.
GO-TO DRINK: MILLER HIGH LIFE
I don’t drink liquor, and IPAs give me cottonmouth. I grew up in Pittsburgh drinking Iron City, which is not a good thing, but I like light beers. And again, I think that’s just growing up being a cook for so long, that’s the only beer that we could really afford. It just stuck to me. Miller High Life is clean and cheap and refreshing. It goes down smooth.
LATE-NIGHT SNACK: PIZZA
My wife loves to cook—she is a master of cooking steaks— and I eat a lot of leftovers when I get home from work. But the thing I’m most hoping to see in the fridge is pizza. When I come home, I just want to eat, and microwave pizza is my favorite thing.
RECIPE EVERY MAN SHOULD MASTER: SOFT-SCRAMBLED EGGS
I make my kids soft-scrambled eggs every morning. Lots of butter, low and slow, never high heat. If the eggs start to stick, my son will straight up be like, “Daddy, the eggs are overcooking,” and he won’t eat them. I start with a nice, fat tablespoon of butter and let it melt, but not brown, in a nonstick pan over low heat. I add four whisked and seasoned eggs and just hit them with the spatula, keeping your eye on them. Never stop turning them, just like you were making risotto. In about six minutes, they’re perfect.
SECRET INGREDIENT: BINCHOTAN CHARCOAL
We use a Japanese grill called a konro, which burns binchotan charcoal. I like sumi, which is compressed, has a hole in the center, and burns hotter and longer. These coals get so hot. When fat drips on them, the smoke comes up and it encapsulates whatever’s on the grill. Beef is the No. 1 best thing to cook over binchotan, but I also really like octopus, prawns, and lobster.
FAVORITE COOKBOOK: FRENCH LAUNDRY
When I started cooking back in 2002, it was at a country club and I was like, “Eh, it’s a job, whatever.” But then my chef showed me Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook, and things instantly changed. Coming from a country club and seeing what Keller was doing back in 1999, that food could be like this, sort of blew my gourd.