Madison, Wisconsin isn’t known as a culinary mecca, but Tory Miller has created a small gustatory oasis at his two restaurants L’Etoile and Café Soleil. Miller specializes in dishes made from locally grown, sustainable, organic ingredients, executed in part through a rigorous put-by system, in which he preserves summer produce for use year-round.
Miller is steadfast in his devotion to local produce and his Wisconsin farmers. He is a Wisconsin Cheese Ambassador for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and can be found year-round at the Dane County Farmers Market with the L’Etoile wagon, foraging for ingredients.
Miller founded his second restaurant Café Soleil on his values of sustainability and locavorism. Café Soleil is Madison’s only green café; it uses locally grown, organic, and sustainable ingredients from Wisconsin farmers, and also instituted composting and recycling programs, energy reduction programs, and uses only disposable products that are made of either biodegradable/compostable materials or of 100% recycled content. Both L’Etoile and Café Soleil give all of their grease waste to farmers for their bio-diesel vehicles. In addition to recently moving L’Etoile to new digs, Miller and his team opened Graze, a casual, all-day eatery open seven days a week.
But before Miller was a devotee to sustainability and local products, he was a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, looking for training and experience in professional kitchens. He worked in several of New York’s best restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park and Judson Grill, before arriving at L’Etoile to work as Odessa Piper’s chef de cuisine. In 2005, Miller purchased the restaurant with his sister and business partner, Traci Miller.
Miller is also an active member of Slow Food USA and Chefs Collaborative. He has attended Terra Madre two years in a row, and has participated in Citymeals-on-Wheels and Autism Speaks chef benefits in New York City, and was a guest chef at the 2008 James Beard Awards reception. Miller works closely with Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch, advocating fresh, local foods in the school system, and spent time working with a seventh grade class at a local middle school, teaching them to identify and cook with local ingredients and helping plant and tend a garden.