–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by Mike Engelberger
Tory Miller, Madison’s most famous chef, loves rice crispy bars, started cooking as a child in his grandparents’ café in Racine and beat Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the Iron Chef Showdown last month. What’s next?
Miller, co-owner and chef of some of Madison’s best restaurants (L’Etoile, Graze, Estrellon and Sujeo) sees a bright future for Madison’s food scene in the hands of young chefs who have a passion for local food and a willingness to work with the community. He notes that a national magazine naming Madison the best foodie scene in the Midwest would certainly help raise the city’s culinary profile.
Raised in Racine, Miller went off to New York to study at the French Culinary Institute. While stumbling at first, he found his way into the kitchens of many of the country’s best chefs. Wanting to be closer to the food producers, he came back to Wisconsin and into Odessa Piper’s L’Etoile kitchen. And so they say, the rest is history. A James Beard Midwest Best Chef Award winner, Miller credits Piper for showing him that all people in the kitchen, in the house and guests should be respected and treated fairly. In the past, women and folks on the lower rungs of the kitchen were not treated well, but today these folks are now running restaurants, leading chefs and a more respected part of the community. Miller has also been instrumental in the start up Madison Area Chef’s Network (MASN) helping the community with food needs and helping each other to be more successful in an industry where cooperation was not the norm in the past.
So, what about Iron Chef Bobby Flay? “The meat of it”, Miller laughs, “is that Bobby Flay is not super nice. Being on the show was nerve wracking, but I was happy with the way it turned out. I’m weird and quirky, but we always want to be the best!”
If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.