I spoke with Chef Jordan Miller on taking the next step forward in his career where he’ll both be running a kitchen and working with a very like minded, food focused owner.
Back in July, Meghan Lee told the Cape Gazette what she was looking for in a chef for her seasonal restaurant, Heirloom, which will showcase local farmers when it opens in early December in Lewes, Delaware.
“….a super-creative chef who I can work side by side with,” she told the Gazette.
She’s getting an incredibly talented chef who has put his creativity on display as head chef and, more recently, as chef de cuisine. Lee, and anyone who steps through the doors at Heirloom, is also getting a chef who is deeply passionate about sourcing.[I wrote about Miller’s intense approach to sourcing at New Jersey’s Black-eyed Susans here.]
Brion Shreffler: How did you link up with the owner?
Owner Meghan Lee was one of the opening managers of Talula’s Garden. She’s friends with Amy Olexy. We worked in Philly at similar times. I saw that she was opening a farm to table place down in Lewes, Delaware and I hopped on it to see what they had going on. It’s an old historic building that they restored. Lewes, Delaware’s thing is that they’re the first town in the first state. It’s very historic. It reminds me of old school Philly. The architecture—it’s got a lot of history. So it was this old, monstrous Victorian house that came up on the market, she bought the property and here we are.
How did you find out about the opening?
I saw an ad go up looking for chefs. And then I kind of did my detective work and figured it was her. I got in contact with her, scheduled an interview, we did a tasting, and she hired me.
What are you going to be doing as the opening chef—first of all, how fun is that?Oh, it’s great. I’m so excited to finally—you know, I loved working with Chris [Sanchez] and Ashley[Pellagrino] [at Black-eyed Susans] but now it’s all on me. 100% ownership, for better or worse, it’s my fault what happens. Menu control, how the kitchen is run, all that stuff. I’m excited to be back running a show, in an atmosphere where the owner is the same—very food oriented.
As opposed to running the show during your time at The Lord Baltimore but facing the constraints of being part of a hotel. And while you had the food oriented owners at Black-eyed Susans, you weren’t the guy as chef de cuisine. Yeah. And with Meghan, obviously, she worked at Talula’s, so she knows what is going on. And she’s really interested and connected in the local farm scene and farmers market. She is heavily involved there. We’re going to change the menu weekly. There’ll be a chef’s table with its own private dining room, with a big open window to the kitchen. We’ll be doing tasting menus. We’re already hooking up with Dogfish Brewing Company and getting a beer dinner set up. There’s a really good brewery and distillation scene down here. Everybody’s making beer and everybody’s making spirits and they’re all super good and super craft. It’s sort of the same thing [as Black Eyed Susan’s] but a better location if you will. I would say less seafood oriented—while we are gonna be very seafood oriented—but pretty much the same exact thing, as far as vibe, size and ownership. The owners are great and they know what’s up.
It sounds like that with Heirloom, you’ll be running with the same mission in sourcing that you & Black-eyed Susans shared.
Oh, totally. The best part is that Delaware is loaded with farms really close to where we’ll be working, so there’s going to be much less of a disconnect as far as getting it. I’ll literally be able to roll to the farms and get it myself or get my deliveries from the farmers market.
I know you mentioned having a few nearby [at Black-eyed Susans] but it’s just about have that many more much closer?
New Jersey as you know, it’s like there’s no more space to develop. It’s all built on. Whereas Delaware is very open farmland, with the exception of a beach town, which is where we are. You drive 5 minutes out of town, you’re in farm country.
What are some of the connections you’ve already made?
Oh, man, I’ve got a list. I’m hoping to employ my father actually to keep the Viking Village connection alive. Nobody can touch Viking Village scallops or tile fish, so I’m hoping to have dad come down twice a week and meet him on the ferry. As far as farms, I have a whole list of where I’ll be getting lamb and goats, beef and dairy, chicken and all that stuff. I actually haven’t visited the farms yet—that’s my mission next week. I’ve been making phone calls, prying around, seeing how we can schedule deliveries.
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