Meet Chris Ghobrial! Chris is the Executive Chef at Coco’s Seafood and Steakhouse in Oconomowoc. Chris is husband to chef Angela ‘Annie’, father to Charlotte, and a beagle named Scout. Before making his way to Lake Country, Chris worked for the Bartolotta Restaurant Group and SURG Restaurant Group in Milwaukee.
Chris grew up in Bedford, Virginia, an area rich with history where visitors will find Civil War re-enactments, Thomas Jefferson’s summer home, and a hotel called Avenel House, where Robert E. Lee stayed during the Civil War. The area suffered the highest D-Day loss of life per capita, and a book that Chris highly recommends, entitled ‘The Bedford Boys,’ recounts that story.
He is proud of the menu that he has carefully curated for Coco’s, highlighting the Skuna Bay salmon the restaurant uses. It arrives at Coco’s just hours after being caught, packed in ice, and Chris is just the second person to handle it. Coco’s also serves Certified Angus Beef, grown within a 200 mile radius of Oconomowoc.
Coco’s boasts an extensive menu of fine wines from around the world, put together by sommelier Corienne ‘Coco’ Walek. They also use locally sourced ingredients from Jones Dairy Farms, Hooks Creamery, Sartori, Sourced in Nature, Pink Teepee Farms, Three Brothers Farms, Honey Acres, Snake River Farms, ViMo Farms and Strauss.
We’d like to thank Chris for talking with us about his experiences in Lake Country.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A. “Very early on, I was mentored by my grandfather, who was a chef in New York City. I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford, Virginia. We had an ethnically diverse culinary life as my father’s side of the family is Arabic, and my mother’s side is German/Hungarian/Austrian. Our family enjoyed Sunday meals prepared by my grandfather, while my grandmother made the pastries for dessert.”
Q. What is your favorite restaurant in Lake Country, and what do you love there?
A. “I love what Chef Kaitlin Scheef is doing at Twisted Fire. She serves great scallops. Amelia’s is great for a quick lunch, and it reminds me of my hometown cafe.”
Q. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Lake Country?
A. “Lou Kowieski or Don Hanson.”
Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A. “Antarctica. I’d love to help my wife’s dream come true of visiting every continent.”
Q. What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
A. “‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Jaws’. I paid homage to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ on Coco’s menu, with an Emerald Green Salad. Also, Coco’s is partnering with Sprecher Brewery, they allowed us to name one of their beers ‘Yellow Brick Road’.”
Q. What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A. “A very inspirational quote that I keep on my phone for myself, and to show my staff: The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. Don’t give up.”
Q. What is something on your bucket list?
A. “To attend the Daytona 500 NASCAR Cup Series motor race.”
Q. What is your favorite music? Name three artists you would like to see live.
A. “I’m all about country music whether it’s new or old school country. Blake Shelton and Willie Nelson are two musicians I’d like to see live.”
Q. Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Lake Country would you have lunch?
A. “Chef Marco Pierre White, he’s a great icon of a man and a leader in our industry. I’d enjoy coffee and a light lunch with him at Roots Coffeebar and Cafe.”
Q. What is your favorite thing or something unique about Lake Country?
A. “How everyone in the community is willing to help someone else, and make them feel at home. It’s a tight knit community that will help a neighbor.”
Q. Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
A. “Opening up another Coco’s Seafood and Steakhouse with Todd Whitaker.”
Q. Even for friends or family, what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A. “I used to competitively race motocross.”
Q. What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word home?
A. “Gorgeous sunset, peace and quiet, and among that quiet, the sounds of all the animals like frogs croaking, birds chirping and fish jumping.”
Q. If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A. “Jackie Chan.”
The Faces of Lake Country is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured, please click the button below.