When it comes to Riley Miller, special events coordinator for College Chefs, there is more to his twelve-line bio. It is fair to say that Miller has had plenty of tricks up his sleeve through his time in the food industry and his career with College Chefs.
Talent Turned Career
A Denver, Colorado native, Miller lived all over. In states such as Missouri, Arizona and now residing in Indiana. When it comes to the food industry, Miller has a sense of humor. “I was never a trained chef,” laughs Miller. In fact, Miller was a semi-pro street juggler, who was trying to get by like any college student. He put his juggling talent to use in the late ‘80s by bar tending. The enthusiasm Miller has as he speaks about the talent behind juggling the bottles for cocktails is energizing. The image of multiple bottles being tossed in the air amongst a bustling bar, is something straight out of a scene in the movie “Cocktail”.
(Courtesy of fanart.tv; Although the resemblance is striking, Riley is taller than the man pictured.)
Once working around the world in places such as the Hard Rock Cafe Madrid and a cabana boy for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, Miller found himself consumed in the restaurant industry. Turning an old ‘50s bowling alley into a sports bar, Miller soon learned the ropes to owning and managing a restaurant. It also helped that Miller was the food chairman for his fraternity while in college. Yet Miller was still not in the kitchen. “I was always front of the house,” says Miller. It wasn’t until four years later when Miller found himself finishing school at Antioch College in Bloomington, Indiana, where he applied for a bar tending position at Yogi’s Bar and Grill. For those that don’t know Yogi’s Bar and Grill, it was and still is the place to go in the college area. Fortunately, Yogi’s Bar and Grill had a position for Miller--a line-cook. Miller’s first kitchen experience soon turned into a management position for Yogi’s. “It was a lot of work,” mentions Miller, as he speaks of the long hours and holidays he worked. After four successful years, he was beginning to feel worn out. However, this was not the end of his career with food.
(Courtesy of Desig Barcelona)
Cooking for Greek Life
Looking through a newspaper, Miller came across an AD for a breakfast cook at a sorority house. Needless to say, Miller got the job. Soon, College Chefs took over Miller’s sorority house and the company also gained Miller as an assistant chef. A couple values were evident when it came to Miller’s connection with College Chefs: A kitchen-resident relationship and high quality service. Miller’s relationship with his house was the prototype for College Chefs. “It was really a professional love affair between the kitchen and the house,” Miller adds. Miller explains the importance of this relationship and the college experience. “There is nothing like seeing a pledge come in sophomore year and graduate three years later,” he says. I can sense the compassion Miller has for his job and his customers as he speaks of the memories at Alpha Omicron Pi at Indiana University. Customer service is not only something College Chefs has pride in, but it is very important to Miller as well.
From the Kitchen to Special Events Coordinator
What makes Miller more of an asset to College Chefs is his versatility. “I have seen it from every side,” Miller says with confidence as he speaks of his experience with the Greek life. Nevertheless, Miller has showcased his strengths with event planning when he planned a holiday party his first year in 2009. “It was an actual show with song and dance,” laughs Miller. As he reminisces on his first holiday party, Miller remembers acts such as himself in a tutu doing a ballet routine and another juggling. Since then, the holiday party has been an annual event. Now showcasing VIP tables and all. (See video below for Riley in action). Miller is the perfect fit for the College Chefs as their events coordinator. As the event coordinator, Miller has had some triumphs. One recently being College Chefs involvement with Philanthropy events. Not only do the events raise money but they also add a connection to the houses and their residents. “The events tie us closer to our houses and they are a focal point,” says Miller as he explains these incredible events. Miller suggests that the key to retaining a connection is doing a good job for the houses, which can be seen from these planned events.
When Miller is not planning the next College Chefs event, he is gardening and running his landscaping business in the summer. “You can find me planting and talking to my shrubs,” he says with a chuckle. A fan of Iron Chef and a fundamentally dedicated employee, Miller certainly has a unique story. Although he is no longer in the kitchen, he continues to instill the values of College Chefs through well planned events for Greek life.
By Ashley Skoczylas