Raised in a food-centric family, Cory Holleman grew up tasting an array of cuisines made with quality ingredients — a concept he brings into his kitchen at Sandy Point Beach House.
“I use the tagline ‘ingredient-focused,’ meaning fresh, seasonal and local when it makes sense,” said Holleman, chef and owner. “Get good ingredients and don’t mess them up.”
Holleman opened the restaurant four years ago and enjoys the creative freedom he has in general and in particular, with a “Features” category on the menu. Features presents up to 10 different dishes at a time — like pan-seared Lake Superior Whitefish kicked-up a notch when served Parmesan-crusted with roasted tomato coulis, lemon Chardonnay butter, whipped Yukon potatoes and chef-select vegetables.
“The menu is driven by seasonality, by whatever book I’m reading, something that I’m craving,” Holleman said. “It could be a conversation with the other guys in the back. It’s always developing. It can be guest requests too.”
Sandy Point Beach House receives a lot of praise for its seafood and burgers.
“People go nuts about our burgers,” Holleman said. “That was one of the first things I built on the menu.”
The Michigan native got his foot in the restaurant business early. At 14, he became a dishwasher at a local restaurant and over time, learned his way around a kitchen.
Holleman was able to progress very quickly in a five-year period.
Food isn’t Holleman’s only passion. It was after graduating with a degree in biology from Grand Valley State University that he made food his focus.
“When I graduated, I had trouble finding a job with my degree,” Holleman said. “I basically decided that I was going to go all in, and try to learn to be a chef.”
Holleman taught himself and worked his way through cookbooks. Chef Patrick Wise, who works for Essence Group, was Holleman’s inspiration.
“I knew Chef Pat in high school,” he said. “Watching him love it so much was part of the reason I became a chef.” n