Jonathan Sanning, Executive Chef
Executive chef Jonathan Sanning uses fresh fish and local meats and produce to create the inventive menus at Smithtown Seafood at West Sixth in downtown Lexington, Ky., and Smithtown at the Summit, at The Summit at Fritz Farm, also in Lexington.
Sanning studied English at the University of Kentucky, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2010. While in college, Sanning worked in several restaurants, from TGI Fridays to the locally owned Merrick Inn, to the Boone Center fine dining restaurant on the UK campus. Having awakened a love of cooking, Sanning began a study at Sullivan University and earned his associate degree in culinary arts in 2012. After completing his apprenticeship at the Castle Post in Versailles, Ky., Sanning joined the kitchen staff at Ouita Michel’s Windy Corner Market in Lexington, eventually earning the position of acting head chef. In 2013, he opened Smithtown Seafood for Michel in Lexington, where he is executive chef. In September 2017, Michel and Sanning opened another Smithtown Seafood location in Lexington, at the Summit at Fritz Farm development.
Like many chefs, Sanning associates the love of cooking with grandparents: His paternal grandfather, Roman, had worked as a short order cook in New York after returning from Korea. Sanning watched Roman as he cooked for everyone on family vacations. In addition, his maternal grandmother introduced him to the classic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Unlike contemporary cookbooks, this comprehensive compilation included instructions on how to butcher domestic animals, bake bread, and how to prepare all the classic vegetables, grains and desserts.
His love of cooking is not confined to the workings of the kitchen. Sanning embraces the concept of local food for the large local population. “I deliberately sought a job with Ouita, because of her dedication to sourcing locally,” Sanning said. “Using local farmers for both proteins and plants facilitates the pleasure of producing thoughtful food for all who care to eat.”
Frank Bickel, General Manager
Frank’s food service career began in 1976 working for his uncle and cousin at the neon-marked house of cheap eats Burger and Shake on New Circle Road in Lexington.
“I was ready to make fries or shakes, but my uncle pointed me to the garbage can. ‘Can’t do anything on the inside unless you can keep the outside clean,’ he said.”
In August 1983, the avid sports fan moved to Los Angeles to be near the 1984 Olympic Games. While there, Frank worked several food-service jobs on the West Coast, including a gig with a cousin’s catering business. Cheers Catering provided food for awards shows and movie premieres such as Black Hawk Down, Snow Dogs and the Country Music Awards.
After a career in the textbook industry, Frank joined Ouita Michel’s team in 2010 as manager of the newly opened Windy Corner. Smithtown Seafood on West Sixth was added to Frank’s roster, and now he manages exclusively both Smithtown locations.
Customers who want to talk sports should introduce themselves to Frank. A fan of all sports, he favors the NFL, track and field and the University of Kentucky. He’s a horse racing fan and has been to numerous Kentucky Derbys and visited many of the nation’s storied tracks, including Arlington, Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Saratoga. He’s not just a spectator. “I also like to throw a ball, swim, dive, shoot hoops — I like the play time,” Frank said.
Frank and his wife, Annette, live in Lexington with their children, Gracie and Charlie.
Ann Daugherty, General Manager
Ann has made a career of helping people and working for Ouita Michel’s team hasn’t been any different.
“I am proud to be part of a restaurant family that celebrates and supports local farmers and producers,” Ann says. “I enjoy being a local food and agriculture ambassador, and at Smithtown Seafood at West Sixth I get to introduce guests to Food Chain, the non-profit aquaponics farm adjacent to our location.”
Ann says a love of good food got her into restaurants. She has worked at several Lexington restaurants. She first worked for Ouita’s team at Wallace Station a few years ago and returned to the restaurant family in 2016.
In her career, Ann has worked in banking, retail management, at a rehabilitation hospital for spinal cord injuries, and at a theatrical supply and prop house.
The Atlanta native graduated from Centre College and has worked toward a master’s degree in Agronomy at the University of Kentucky.
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