Cooper Miller may look like a new face in Tupelo, but really he is an old friend. Miller was raised in Amory, Miss., completely oblivious to his family’s culinary heritage until he had set out on his own.
“I didn’t find out until later in life that cooking was in my DNA,” said Miller.
While in college at Mississippi State University, Miller had got a job at Anthony’s Good Food Market. He started out in the dish pit, but was running sauté within a year. After a two year stent in Vail, Colo., Miller returned home to finish his education, in school and in the kitchens of the Veranda, The Grill and Hotel Chester.
“After being fired from The Grill, I went to Hotel Chester to apply for a line cook position,” Miller said. “After a thirty minute interview, I walked out as the Executive Chef. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me realize that I loved doing this, but I had no idea what I was doing.”
With that in mind, his now-wife Lauren began applying him to culinary schools in secret. Once acceptance letters started coming in, he and Lauren chose Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Ga., for the booming restaurant market and the proximity to family. Miller graduated at the top of his class with honors and has spent the last decade working with James Beard nominees, Iron Chef participants and Top Chef winners. Most recently, he worked as Executive Chef of Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall.
Miller is bringing everything he has learned back home as the new Executive Chef of Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen. His self-described style of “southern simple” is a perfect fit for the farm-to-table concept. He plans to build on the foundation put in place by Mitch McCamey, and promises an expansion of appetizers, shared plates and family dining options. Like McCamey, Miller is a strong advocate for supporting local farms.
“I’ve watched Tupelo and Mississippi grow over the last decade and I’m excited to team up with Mitch and keep this trend moving in the right direction,” said Miller. “We are going to elevate our standards and expectations to deliver a superior culinary experience, hopefully this will inspire others to follow suit.”