Spreading the love from one of New York's hottest places, STK, Todd Mark Miller opened an L.A. branch last year and is working on sites in Miami and Las Vegas. This 2005 Restaurant Hospitality Rising Star first carved out his reputation at Philadelphia's Barclay Prime, where he cooked up a $100 Kobe Philly Cheese Steak; at STK, as executive chef, he mixes modern American cuisine, classic steaks and a sexy vibe. His restaurants have become celebrity magnets.
You grew up in Utah and have spent time in some far-flung places, including Singapore, the Maldives, Las Vegas and now, New Jersey. Any favorites?
I'm not sure it's possible for me to have a favorite. I really like New York, I truly enjoyed living in Singapore and there's nothing like the Chiang Mai area of Thailand.
My, what a big fan you have. Part of a collection?
I do antiques. Some of my favorites are things from Asia, mainly furniture — it's amazing.
With restaurants on both coasts, you must have quite the juggling act. Walk us through a day.
I get in at different times, depending on what's on my plate — today it was about 11:30. Then I check e-mails, check the walk-ins to make sure things are in order, check the fish, say hello to the preparadores, take a look at the main line to make sure everything is organized and clean, hook up with the purchasing director, then wait for the chef de cuisine. I get on calls to L.A. starting at 2, go over the week's numbers and any other issues or problems. I usually don't leave until 12 or 1 a.m.
With a brutal schedule like that, I hope you indulge in the occasional treat.
I do love sweets. There's nothing like raw cookie dough! And there's a place in L.A. called Joan's that serves this most amazing apple pie. It's the balance — the cinnamon, the ice cream, the amount of apples in relation to the perfectly flaky crust. It comes out on a skillet nice and warm, and there's this pool of gooey brown sugar sauce.
You a big steak eater?
Not really. I don't want to be pegged as “the steakhouse chef.” I have a lot more depth than that. But don't get me wrong, I'm happy with what I'm doing.
What do you like most about your job?
The excitement. I love it when we're right in the middle of something and it's mayhem, but everything is going out as planned somehow. Then you say, “How did that happen? No one got hurt and people are enjoying their meals.”
If you didn't need to work, what would you do?
I would love to have a family like everyone else. That's one of the downsides of this business: It's really hard to be able to have a family.
What is your home kitchen never out of?
I really enjoy good olive oil. It makes everything that much better. Let's say I was to cook for my girlfriend — I don't have one right now — I might mix an avocado or a nice ripe tomato with orange or lemon zest, sea salt, black pepper and some great olive oil, then slow roast some salmon and put it all together.
A little fanning, some salmon, a splash of olive oil: Sounds like a recipe for romance.