Head Chef, General Manager & Managing Partner
Chef, GM and Managing Partner Paul Olson sets the course for the restaurants within the Bowers Harbor Inn property. From culinary direction, food preparation and sourcing to architectural design, hours, and staffing, Paul is the guiding light. Shaping all his decisions is a mission to have the shortest distance between the food source and the table, which means he will always use local ingredients first.
Olson is a Michigan native and graduate of both Michigan State University and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He honed his skills under the tutelage of Chef Fredreric Perrier at La Cite, La Boheme and Café Luxembourg in Manhattan, where he discovered a passion for classic bistro cuisine.
Olson served as executive chef at Luna in Mount Kisco, NY, a position that resulted in a partnership that allowed him to open five restaurants, including Connecticut’s best rib joint, The Cookhouse in New Milford, CT, and The Inn at Newtown in Newtown, CT. Olson has crafted dishes for such notable events as A Tribute to Billy Joel in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Dinner in 1991, and the Aspen Food & Wine Classic in 1995.
After a total of 18 years on the East Coast, an opportunity at Bowers Harbor Inn lured Olson back to Michigan. He brings along his philosophy of fresh flavors, local ingredients and superbly executed dishes to Mission Table & Tasting Room and Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant, Microbrewery & Distillery.
Brewmasters Mike Hall and Ron Jefferies are ultimately responsible for the sublime list of beers offered at Mission Table & Tasting Room and other facilities at the Bowers Harbor Inn complex. With over 50 years of brewing experience between the two and time at internationally renowned breweries such as Dogfish Head and Jolly Pumpkin, drinkers can rest assured that the brews offered are of the utmost quality. From tart, Belgian farmhouse ales to clean, bitter IPAs, there is a beer you and your guests are sure to enjoy.
In addition, Mike distills Northern United Brewing Company’s own brand of spirits — Civilized — on-site as well. As with the lineup of North Peak, Grizzly Peak and Jolly Pumpkin beers produced and available here, these spirits are made from the fruit of the Northern Michigan landscape. Grapes picked from vineyards on the Bowers Harbor Inn property, Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. Grain harvested from farms in the Traverse City area. Sugar beets grown in fertile Michigan soil. Ingredients like these enable Mike to distill remarkable vodka, whiskey and rum that can stand against any mainstream, or esoteric, spirit on the market.
Barbara Olson brings over 20 years of marketing experience to Mission Table & Tasting Room, including stops at MTV, HBO, Comedy Central, Pepsi Cola North America & Kraft Foods North America and the ROR Restaurant Group. Her goal now is to share the beauty and bounty of the Bowers Harbor Inn property (and its resident ghost, Genevive) with all of its guests.
A graduate of Western Michigan University, Barbara’s career took her to New York, but the call of Northern Michigan brought her back home in 2006 with Chef, GM, Managing Partner and husband Paul Olson. She arranges all private events at Mission Table & Tasting Room, as well as the other facilities at the estate — Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant, Microbrewery & Distillery and our large format event space, the Peninsula Room. From receptions, rehearsals, business meetings, fundraisers, birthday and anniversary dinners, and everything in between, she and her husband’s goal is ensure that each and every guest receives nothing but the most impeccable level of service. Contact her today at (231) 944-6984 so that she can use her expertise and resources to make your event a truly memorable one.