I am very fortunate to have known Chef Andrew Miller. Being a Chef for well over 30 years, Chef Miller is a wealth of knowledge in the cooking and hospitality world. I visited Chef at his current office at Gwinnett Technical College, where he is a Chef Instructor to aspiring culinary students. Chef’s office is a small museum of cooking manuals, kitchen tools, trophies, graduation certificates, and photographs of past employment places. Stood against a busy wall is a framed certificate of Guinness World Record for the largest pastry ever made, which Chef and seven other teammates still hold the title today. About six years ago, Chef Miller was my husband’s, David, culinary instructor at Le Cordon Bleu. The two kept in touch and once in a while, we would get to have dinner with Chef. Up until today, Chef continues to mentor his alumni such as David and the successful Jiyeon Lee of Heirloom BBQ and Sobban Restaurant. It is rare to see someone so passionate about his art and his students. David said Chef was one of the toughest instructors at Le Cordon Bleu, but his teaching was the most effective and in touch with the reality of the culinary world. He genuinely wants to see his students succeed. I can personally see that he has great pride in David and Jiyeon for their accomplishments. I asked Chef if I could interview him for Sriracha Religion. He generously agreed. Below is our conversation.
SR: I’m sure you have seen the recent increase in celebrity cooking shows, such as M.C. Hammer, Haylie Duff, Tiffani Thiessen, etc. These people never actually had professional culinary training. How do you feel about that and how does it affect the culinary industry as a whole?
AM: They are personalities that speak to their audience about food. They most likely to have a chef to do the prep and finished plating. To me I think that giving the general public a personality. It is up to the producers to put the right content on their show and network. I have a big problem with these types of people and chefs in front of the camera. I do believe that the general public is more knowledgeably but some believe that they could make it in a restaurant or any food service establishment. I equate to a professional sports figure: they make it easy, and every one then believes that the can become a chef.
SR: Similarly, how do you feel about celebrity judges for cooking shows? I believe one of the reasons Mario Batali left Iron Chef was because he felt the producers kept using judges that were not qualified to grade his food. Do you agree with him?
AM: I do believe that the judge needs to have a trained palate and the understandings of all the techniques that are involved. I realize that some of those judges have dined out a lot, owned or worked in restaurants. I do believe that if is a chef driven competition it is best that the have trained chefs as their peers for the evaluation.
SR: As a culinary instructor, how do you feel about the next generation of chefs and restauranteurs?
AM: I believe that there are some talented and driven chefs up and coming. I believe it takes school and experience to get it right.
SR: I see that street food and casual fine dining, such as Gunshow, are becoming more popular than what it used to be. How do you see the food industry 5 years from now?
AM: I still see that different cultures will be present in our food, I think the industry will grow and prosper.
SR: If you can give one advice to aspiring young chefs, what would it be and why?
AM: First it is hard work, second in a kitchen you still have to work your way up. You have to constantly learn new and exciting items. If you still like what you are doing then open your restaurant after you know what it takes. Why: Because it happens that people are told that they can become executive chefs out of schools. I know 99% of the time this is not a true statement.