Mike Eckles: Bloomfield Hills High School Alumnus on TV Show Pressure Cooker

Mike Eckles, Class of 2014, Bloomfield Hills High School’s first graduating class, was recently featured on Netflix’s television show Pressure Cooker. As the runner-up winner of the competitive cooking show, Eckles appears in all eight episodes, which were released in January 2023.

What were the most important lessons you learned at Bloomfield Hills Schools?

I learned that you have to work hard, and make sure you’re showing up on time. They didn’t let us slide on being tardy. That’s professionalism that has corresponded to the rest of my life. 

Were there any classes that you took in high school that inspired you to become a chef?

I got inspired to be a chef outside of school, so I chose the OTEC (Oakland Technical Early College) program during high school. For a guy like me who knew they wanted to cook ever since they were young, OTEC was really a great resource to have. I learned things that I actually use in my everyday life at OTEC, where I cooked for half the day. You have to have a certain number of credits to qualify for OTEC, and then junior and senior year you can do it. They had buses that would take us from Lahser to OTEC in Royal Oak, and then take us back. Junior and senior year, half of my day was at OTEC. It was one three-hour long cooking class, with other high school students. 

What advice would you give current students or alumni?

At the end of the day, where you come from doesn’t matter. What matters is that you work hard. There are people who have a lot, but if they don’t work hard, there are other people who are going to surpass them in their careers. Working hard is most important in career life. 

I would also like to tell current students that they’re lucky they get to go to that beautiful new school!

Share a bit about your educational and career background. What led you to where you are now?

I knew I wanted to be a chef, and applied to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in New York City. CIA is the best school; it’s like Hogwarts for cooking. After CIA, I came back to Michigan. I was at Coach Insignia at the top of the Renaissance Center, until they closed. Then I was managing Forest in Birmingham for a few years until I started managing my own business a few years ago, called Abode Fine Dining. We have a commercial kitchen in Livonia, but we do in-home dining. We create five-course, fancy meals and catering in people’s homes, like fancy dinner parties or date nights. We make multiple courses and bring everything to the house, and execute the fine dining experience in people’s homes. A lot of it is finished food, but if quality is affected, it won’t be finished, like for a dish with a fish. Dessert or bread would be made ahead of time. It takes 20 hours of prep work to make one dinner. 

I started the business during Covid, almost 3 years ago, in early August 2020. I did that purposefully, because all the fine dining was closed. It was the best time to start.

Share about your experience being on the show Pressure Cooker.

The experience was kind of weird. You can’t use company or brand names, and I was mic’d up the whole time except when I was sleeping. There were always people watching you, and there were cameras everywhere. You couldn’t get away from the camera, so it was pretty wild. That was the craziest part about the whole thing. In terms of the filming, I left for California about this time last year - March 2022 - for 3 weeks. They made us Covid quarantine for five days, and then we were in the house for a couple weeks. 

Share a bit about yourself!

I live in Troy, but I’m looking to move to Farmington since my kitchen is in Livonia. My parents still live in Bloomfield Hills. I work a lot, but I like to go out to eat with friends, and try new restaurants. I used to be on a soccer league team and I like hiking. We have a family house up north, so I go up there whenever I can. 

To read more about Eckles and the television show, Pressure Cooker, check out this article!

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