‘The Fort’ adds four-diamond chef

– Press release

The Fort Independence’s Travel Plaza is delighted to announce the addition of a new Chef at their Tunapi Grill. Chef Michelle (Mike) Hanson has taken on the duties of overseeing all aspects of the Fort’s food operation.

Chef Mike - Michelle Hanson

Chef Mike – Michelle Hanson

The Travel Plaza is located just 2 ½ miles north of Independence and in addition to the Tunapi Grill, offers a convenience store, gift shop, truck stop and Winnedumah Winns Casino.

Chef Mike’s has an extensive culinary background starting with doing kitchen prep for an Armenian food/hamburger stand in Fresno when she was only 9 years old. Chef Mike has been the Chef and Director of Purchasing for the Central Valley’s famed Harris Ranch, the Chef at a Las Vegas Casino and for 14 years was the Chef at the Four Diamond Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley National Park.

St Louis Ribs

So what brings a gourmet trained Chef to a Grill located at a convenience store/fuel station? “I love the Eastern Sierras, I enjoy a good challenge and I see huge potential at the Fort to continue and increase the rapid growth it has experienced over the past few years. We have great fuel prices and that draws in a lot of people to our location. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to show a lot people just what we can do here. Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal prepared well, priced right and served with a smile? That’s what we’re all about here at the Fort…great products, great value and great customer service”.

“We are very happy to have Chef Mike here with us at Fort Independence” says the Fort’s Operation’s Manager David Woodruff. “Grill sales have increased dramatically just in the short time she’ been with us. We have big plans for our future, including a special Valentine’s Dinner, weekly dinner specials and off site catering. We’re even planning a four course Winemaker’s Dinner for the spring.”

The Fort will be hosting a “Meet the Chef- Open House” at the Tunapi Grill on Friday evening January 23rd from 6pm to 7:30 pm. Guests will have the opportunity to meet Chef Mike and sample some of her menu. The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the Fort’s Open House you can contact David at 760 878-2483.

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14 Responses to ‘The Fort’ adds four-diamond chef

  1. The Aggressive Progressive January 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    So has anybody tried out the Chefs food? Any reviews?

  2. Indy Resident January 22, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    What does this article have to do with Tioga, Toomeys, Mammoth, Tahoe, etc? This page went off the page..lol.. its for the new chef in Independence.

    • Charles O. Jones January 23, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      Yes, forums have a way of diverging from the original topic. I think the original Whoa Nellie Deli reference was commenting on how gas stations can actually serve very good food. I hope this proves true at the fort.

      • Desert Tortoise January 23, 2015 at 10:59 am #

        Yep, that was the point, the analogy to Whoa Nelly Deli was that you can have a fine dining experience at a gas station convenience store and the hope that this one is as good as the Whoa Nelly Deli. And, btw, I stand corrected that Matt Toomey moved his business to Mammoth and not Tahoe. With a new child that constrains both the budget and the schedule, a day job and my own business I don’t get out much so my apologies for the gaff.

  3. Dee Younger January 20, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Matt Toomey left Tioga Gas Mart and started his own place in Mammoth years ago. It’s called Toomey’s

  4. Charles O. Jones January 20, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    If you’re referring to Matt Toomey, he’s not in Tahoe, he opened his own restaurant in Mammoth Lakes – “Toomey’s”. And it’s well worth a visit.


    • Ken Warner January 21, 2015 at 11:33 am #

      I don’t doubt that Toomey’s food is good — but how can anybody afford 9 bucks plus tip plus driving and parking for a bowl of oatmeal?

      • Charles O. Jones January 21, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

        Sometimes ya just gotta splurge a little Ken. The coconut pancakes are a little pricey too, but well worth it on occasion.

        • Ken Warner January 22, 2015 at 11:50 am #

          I haven’t been to any eatery in town — except for Carls; McD’s; Subway — for years. Can’t afford it. People seem to get upset when I say this as if it’s some kind of personal insult to them.

          • Charles O. Jones January 24, 2015 at 9:09 am #

            Personally I’d rather have good pancakes once at Toomey’s for 9 bucks than crappy pancakes three times at McD’s for 3 bucks. But no insult here Ken. Eat wherever you like that fits your budget. I cook at home far more than I eat out. That’s the best value going.

      • Tom O January 21, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

        Do you have a prob w/ Matt’s food prices[which are average compared to around town] or are you complaining about the 10.00 parking? Or are you just being Ken Warner?

  5. Desert Tortoise January 20, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    Oh yummy. I used to make the sojourn up to the Whoa Nelly Deli before the chef there moved on to Lake Tahoe. I sure hope this new chef comes close to the wonderful food and decadent desserts the Whoa Nelly Deli served up. I can’t wait!

    • Charles O. Jones January 20, 2015 at 9:13 am #

      Looking forward to trying some of the new grub at the Fort too.

    • Tom O January 21, 2015 at 6:23 am #

      FYI….Chef Matt Toomey didnt leave the Whoa Nelli Deli to move to Tahoe….he has a place at the Village in Mammoth called Toomey’s….hes been there for 3 yrs now…..doing very well and the food is awesome.


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