Alumni Profile

Michael Trager-Kusman ’02

Michael left his job at the Department of Treasury in Washington D.C. to move to New York and pursue his passion. From starting as an unpaid pizza delivery boy, he climbed his way up to become a line cook at one of New York’s most premier gastropubs, The Breslin, where he met Tyler Morris, now executive chef of MTK Productions.  Michael had gotten the crash course needed to pursue his dream of starting a restaurant in his hometown of Louisville.  RYE on Market opened in the NULU district in early 2012, followed by Atlantic No. 5 in the summer of 2013.

Briefly describe your career after leaving St. Francis.

St. Francis was a great help in opening my mind to different career paths and not limiting myself based on pressure or expectations.  After college, I spent time in both Washington D.C. working in the Department of Treasury, and then in New York City as a chef.

Looking back at your time at St. Francis, what stands out?

The creative freedom to learn in different ways.  I felt like I was stronger because St. Francis created an environment that allowed me to be independent and learn the way I needed to.

Do you recall a specific teacher or friend that influenced you in some way?

Mikulak teaching Walden had a huge impact on me. At the time I had no clue what he was talking about, but it really began to mean something later in life.

How was your experience at St. Francis a factor in determining your career path?

It allowed me to think outside the box and chase my true dreams.

What are the highlights of your career thus far?

Opening RYE – my first restaurant.

What are you currently working on?

Always looking for opportunities to educate about and provide “good,” clean food.

How do you define success?

Being happy in what you do, which I believe happens when you care deeply about what you are doing day-to-day.

At RYE, we believe food should be approachable yet challenging; something that pushes the senses and comforts the soul. Founded on the conviction that our most valued social experiences are created around food, RYE believes food exudes an energy that is, at times, indescribable. We believe that local and regional food simply tastes better. Capitalizing on the unrivaled products of our local farms, RYE focuses on using sustainable, seasonal, unadulterated ingredients, allowing us to provide you with a fresher, cleaner, more flavorful cuisine. Beyond what we believe, you can trust that we are focused on being the very best at what we do.

Atlantic No. 5 features an innovative take on lunchtime classics and coffee by local roasters Sunergos. Grab a quick bite while you’re on the go or pull up a chair, plug in your laptop and stay awhile. Join us for breakfast, lunch, and after-work drinks, and check out our upcoming music events.