Michael Clifford is a Vero Beach native who began his culinary career under the watchful eye of British chef Bruce Turner, of Black Pearl Brasserie fame and currently The Tides. While mentoring with Bruce, Michael worked his way from busboy to bartender at Riverside Café (he had started in restaurants as a dishwasher at Grand Harbor when he was 16). Eventually Bruce let him into the kitchen, or “back of house,” and Michael found his passion for cooking.
Michael met his British wife, Jayne, while working at Aquarina Golf and Beach Club in Melbourne Beach. Under Michael’s guidance, the two began a healthy catering company in June 2016 before operating restaurants in Vero Beach. In early 2020, Michael and Jayne opened a permanent home for Sealantro in the Miracle Mile area. Following a huge demand for British dishes and grocery items, Sealantro rebranded as a British café and market in 2021.
Michael has traveled frequently to Britain, including the historic city of York where the castle bears his family name “Clifford.” (The family originally settled in Britain, from France, after the Norman Conquest in 1066). Michael loves his wife’s homeland, and he is making it his mission to visit as much of the British Isles as possible, stopping for sticky toffee pudding and fish and chips along the way. So far he has visited Lancashire, Yorkshire, Merseyside, the Lake District, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Cambridge, and London. North of the border, he has been to Edinburgh and looks forward to getting to the Highlands soon.
Michael is adamant that every dish Sealantro serves be authentic. “If a dish doesn’t taste like I remember it from my trips to Britain, I go straight back to our test kitchen. We have to be true to Jayne’s British roots,” he explains. “When we introduced fish and chips, we tried several batter recipes. Finally we settled on one that I created because it had the right amount of flavor and crunch. Trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of fish and chips in Britain!”
When he is not cooking, Michael loves to fish, read, and watch British TV shows since he can finally understand the accent. He is a huge Miami Dolphins fan while his soccer team of choice is Liverpool FC. Michael lives in Vero Beach with his wife Jayne, and their mischievous spaniel Jaxson.