Michael Schulson is the chef and restaurateur behind the Schulson Collective of restaurants whose imagination and vision have made him one of Philadelphia’s most successful hospitality professionals. Today, Schulson is the owner of day-to-night destination Double Knot; the expansive Independence Beer Garden; Sampan and the adjacent Graffiti Bar; and serves as chef-partner at Izakaya at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. He recently opened new-American spot, Harp & Crown, in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, as well as contemporary izakaya restaurant, Monkitail, and cocktail lounge, Nokku, at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida. Today, Michael teams with his wife, Nina, in their efforts to expand the Schulson collective.
Most recently, Schulson’s Double Knot has received numerous accolades including “three bells” from The Philadelphia Inquirer, three stars and the title of “2016 Best New Restaurant” from Philadelphia magazine and was named one of the “15 biggest restaurant openings of 2016” by Zagat.
Schulson attended and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, working his way up the culinary chain of command in such acclaimed restaurants as New York’s Peacock Alley at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and David Burke’s Park Avenue Café, and Philadelphia’s Le Bec-Fin and Susanna Foo.
Before setting out on his own, Schulson helmed legendary kitchens in New York City (Buddakan) and Philadelphia (Pod) and traveled to Japan. He eventually earned the ability to speak conversational Japanese following his stints in prestigious Tokyo kitchens, among them Spago and the Four Seasons Hotel.
In 2008, Schulson opened his first restaurant, Izakaya, a modern Japanese pub in Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. At Borgata, Schulson found himself among the likes of Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck, earning rave reviews and immense popularity. Schulson opened his second restaurant, Sampan, in 2009 in Philadelphia’s bustling Midtown Village. The contemporary Asian restaurant and bar was promptly named one of Bon Appetit’s “Top Six places to Taste Asian Fusion,” and Schulson was named one of Esquire’s “Chefs to Watch” in their annual restaurant issue soon after.
In summer 2014, Schulson took on his biggest project to date with Independence Beer Garden, a 25,000 square-foot open-air drinking and dining mecca steps from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park. The massive, largely outdoor space quickly attracted huge crowds and became known as one of the city’s best places to enjoy a beer, a snack and fun with friends.
In spring 2017, Schulson brought his modern Japanese fare to Hollywood, Florida with the opening of Monkitail. The restaurant’s menu is a contemporary take on the classic izakaya, featuring sharable small plates and sushi as well as an array of specialty cocktails and saké. Surrounding an open robatayaki kitchen in the heart of the restaurant is a 15-seat sushi bar and a private dining area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Tucked away beyond Monkitail’s main dining room is Nokku, a discreet cocktail lounge with four private rooms, each having full karaoke capabilities.
Schulson has starred in two original series, TLC’s “Ultimate Cake Off” and Style Network’s “Pantry Raid,” and has also appeared as a guest on “The Today Show,” “The View”, “Rachael Ray” and “Fox News” . He has been featured in a wide range of publications, from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Men’s Fitness.