The New Face of Flik

The New Face of Flik

There has been a change in Alumni Hall recently, and students have noticed it: Mike Strickland has been working as head chef at Trinity High School since December of 2023, and his impact on the daily lunches has not gone unnoticed.  

Strickland has spread his culinary arts all over the southeast region of the United States. From east Tennessee, to Savannah, Georgia… From Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Boca Grande and Naples, Florida, he has seen it all. But what brought him to Kentucky (or more specifically Trinity), the answer is simple: family.  

“After COVID…we wanted to be closer to family. My sister-in-law’s in Cincinnati. My sister’s here in Louisville, and we kind of chose between both the cities.” Previously, Strickland’s life as chef consisted of late nights, long hours and a lot of stress. Strickland saw the effects of his work on his wife and, after moving to Louisville, decided to take up a day job as a chef at Trinity. He knew that he and his wife would be working at the same time, and they would be able to spend the evenings together, a formerly rare occurrence. “We just didn’t have a great life together, so I wanted to make a life change for my wife.” 

Strickland is more than just a chef, though. Outside of work, Strickland likes the wilderness: he used to go on hikes and backpacking adventures that would lasts days, foraging and enjoying the comfort of mother nature. In recent years, hiking has turned into camping with his wife. They love the idea of a getaway to spend time together and with their pets.  

Strickland and his wife met at a older age and they decided to not have children, but instead, opened their home to rescue four-legged animals. They currently house four dogs and two cats and love to take them out on their camping adventures.  

Strickland grew up in an Italian household and developed a love for cooking from it. He said his mother called him “her little chopper” because he would assist her chopping vegetables for dishes. Strickland’s uncle is also a high-end chef, traveling all over. This was a reality that Strickland would soon find himself in. His official career in the restaurant industry started at the age of 13 as he was washing dishes.   

While the French Cuisine is what he grew up with, which includes working with tweezers and fine dining, Strickland has recently found a love of fire-cooking: creating pizzas, smoking meats and cooking with logs. “There’s just something about working with a fire and knowing that it’s alive.” Strickland owns his own pizza and barbecue restaurants, and he was most recently the general manager at the Brown Hotel.  

It’s just not cooking to me. It’s hospitality.

— Mike Strickland

Strickland’s outlook on cooking is presented in the quality of his food and the time and care he puts into each dish. “It’s just not cooking to me. It’s hospitality.” Strickland doesn’t just see food when cooking; he sees the people he’s cooking for and the team he is working with, treating them all with care and respect so that the hospitality philosophy he preaches is an easy goal to achieve. “The relationship-building within cooking is absolutely amazing to me. We’re not just dealing with food on a regular basis. It’s dealing once again back to the hospitality, dealing with people on a daily basis. Not just our customers, but people working for me as well too.”

Cooking for a bunch of moody teenagers is hard enough, but Chef Strickland has been striking gold recently with the chef’s table or entrée sales doubling since he took over. It is safe to say that Trinity’s culinary experience and the happiness of many hungry teens are safe in the hands with Chef Mike.


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