American Food & Beverage opened earlier this year in Buckhead Atlanta. At the helm of the kitchen is chef Jeremy Miller, whose culinary repertoire includes Seeger’s, Jean-Georges in New York City and The French Laundry in Yountville. Now Miller has come back home to Atlanta to serve up simple, done right dishes. Here we talked with chef about his plans.
You have an extensive background of well-reputed restaurants. Which job would you say helped you grow the most?
That's a very in-depth question. Every job I've ever had has matured me as a chef/cook in different ways. To pick one experience would be hard, but I think they all grew me individually as a chef.
Let’s start at the beginning…
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I was an extern at Asher under Todd Ginsberg, I learned how to truly care and respect food and how to work fast. He also introduced me to amazing cookbooks, and his passion for food was so infectious, so that is an experience I will never forget. Seeger taught me simplicity, and extreme cleanliness. Jean-Georges inspired me by being a part of such an amazing restaurant in the heart of NYC, doing 400-500 on a weekend evening, and upholding a 3-star Michelin standard.
What about The French Laundry?
The French Laundry was a cook's dream. You could literally pick up the majority of your misè en place on your way to work: wild orange trees, Naturtium bushes, fennel, wild mustard blossoms, quince, and figs, just to name a few types of produce that was scattered within the landscape. Once I took a bus to Yountville, it was dreamlike, and I knew I had to do whatever it took to work and live there.
And your time at Buckhead Life?
Pano Karatossos gave me my first big break to become an executive chef. He really took a chance on me and under Pano Jr.'s tutelage - that experience helped me understand the "big picture". He is such an approachable boss and an amazing leader.
What makes you most excited about Atlanta’s dining scene in 2015?
There are tons of restaurants opening now - it's exciting and there’s a great energy in the air. I have to really push my cooks and staff because we have so much competition. No dish can go out un-tasted or analyzed. I encourage my cooks to think and care about the food and not just go through the motions.
Transitioning to American Food & Beverage- what makes the wood burning grill different from some of the others around town?
We have a J&R wood burning rotisserie that was custom-made just for our restaurant. It is the heart of the kitchen, and we try to incorporate it in as many dishes as possible.
Will you instill any international flair from your travel experience onto your menu?
The Georgia quail on the menu was inspired by a trip to Bangkok – I had the most amazing fried chicken there, and I tried to replicate that texture within the quail dish. I wanted our fried chicken on the menu to be very regional, however the quail is marinated in rice flour and fermented chilies, and then fried and tossed in a smoked pepper/sorghum sauce.
What draws you to Georgia’s local food scene?
I grew up here and I can connect to this region more than anywhere else. I also think it's great that you can find so many different styles of cooking in Atlanta – it’s awesome to live in a city that has amazing food from Vietnamese to "farm to table" to comfort food. I also enjoy visiting our local farmers markets with my family.
A lot of restaurants have instilled a Sunday Supper as an ode to the South. Why was it important for you to have that part of your program?
I think under the label of "American food and beverage," it’s a huge part of the culture to have a Sunday supper. I grew up in a Jewish family of 6 and we ate dinner together every night. Sunday evening dinner was a very important event for us growing up, and I think it’s a huge tradition in America. And at American Food and Beverage, it is our way of paying tribute to that culture. It's really approachable, fun and an awesome opportunity to bring the whole family in to relax and have a great meal. We have a TON of fun with it in the kitchen.