Michelle Wilton discovered her talent in the kitchen as a child when she baked her first perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies and vowed to become a life-long cook. A graduate from San Francisco’s prestigious California Culinary Academy (CCA), Wilton developed and refined her cooking skills with a myriad of high-profile kitchen jobs, but it was her discovery of and appreciation for local and seasonal produce that ultimately informed her true culinary style, a passion she has carried and maintained throughout her culinary career.
After completing her studies in 1999, Wilton initiated her culinary path with a series of positions in the kitchen starting with pastries at Garibaldi’s in San Francisco in 1999. From there, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in the celebrated pastry kitchens at L’Orangerie in 2000 and Patina in 2002. She also has held some front of the house positions, starting at Cha Cha Cha in 2003 as a pastry chef, bartender and then General Manager. She then moved to David Myers’ acclaimed Sona in 2004 as a front of the house captain. After years in other chef’s kitchens, Wilton craved independence which motivated her to develop her own business as a private chef, where she flourished and truly found her niche.
As an Eagle Rock resident for over eight years, Wilton recognized the burgeoning up-and-coming food community in her neighborhood and decided to put her culinary expertise to the test, opening her very own restaurant, Four Café, with her husband Corey Wilton in 2009. Now, as the chef and owner of the thriving nine-year-old neighborhood restaurant, she develops the menu seasonally and can often be found at the café tasting, cooking, or putting together a custom catering menu for special events.
After tremendous success with her cafe, Wilton decided to venture on to her next project, Penny Oven, located just across the street from Four Café. Having always dreamed about a neighborhood wood-fired breakfast and bakery concept she decided that it was time to turn that dream into a reality when the perfect space for her concept presented itself.
At Penny Oven, Wilton aims to create a culinary oasis in Eagle Rock that serves great coffee, breakfast, pastries, fresh baked bread, smoothies and fresh juices. Wilton continues to bring her cooking philosophy to life at Penny Oven, utilizing almond wood and the freshest peak season ingredients to create a true, unique balance of textures and flavors.
As a female chef, Wilton aspires to be a positive role model for her two young boys. When she isn’t in the kitchen or crafting the next menu for an upcoming concept, Wilton can be found breaking out in an elevator dance party with her little ones or hiking with her husband and business partner, Corey Wilton.