Hailing from a background in fine dining, chef Mike Johnson launched his culinary career under a young Emeril Lagasse before heading north to develop his skills under the expertise of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter and Gabino Sotellino. Johnson then traveled to Paris to train at the prestigious Le Buisson D’Ardent, and served a stint under Belgian Master Chef Daniel Joly in Beaver Creek, CO before bringing his culinary expertise home to St. Louis, MO. Today, Mike is the chef and owner of St. Louis’ Sugarfire Smoke House, an award-winning restaurant that shines light on Johnson’s dynamic capacity.
With fourteen locations (and counting), Sugarfire has consistently been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis and chef Johnson continues to establish himself as a culinary master and renowned competitor, placing 1st in the 2015 and 2018 Memphis in May World Championship (seafood), 3rd in the 2014 Memphis in May World Championship (poultry), 3rd in the 2015 World Food Championship (bacon), 9th in Overall Sides at the 2015 American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue, 12th Overall at Meatstock Australia, 4th in Hog at the 2017 Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-Off, and most recently, spearheaded a grilling demonstration at the 2018 Budweiser Big Bud Sizzle, successfully breaking the Guinness World Record for most people simultaneously grilling at one time. Furthermore, Sugarfire proudly received a Patriot Award from the
U.S. Department of Defense for supporting and hiring veterans. In December of 2016, chef Johnson’s latest venture, Hi-Pointe Drive-In, came to fruition and has since been lauded as one of St. Louis’ Best New Restaurants, also receiving national attention for its smash-patty burgers. In 2020, chef Mike Johnson co-founded a faster casual, pressure Fry’d chicken restaurant in the Delmar Loop. In 2021, Mike competed against thousands of chefs from around the world and took first place at the World Food Championships for the, “World’s Best Burger.”