Food Truck to First Place

A look at the life and culinary journey of Reis Miller — winner of the SkillsUSA 2019 culinary competition


Photo by Nick Styers

At his station, Reis Miller poses in the Broadmoor Bistro’s kitchen Sep. 9. Miller has won multiple national cooking awards in first place winner of the Culinary Arts competition.

Anika Paulette, Staff Writer

The sun sets outside the window of the Broadmoor Bistro as senior Reis Miller’s hands rest on the cool black tabletop. This is where he’s comfortable, despite how hectic it can get. He sits on the other side of the table — well-pressed black chef’s coat and all, a chef that keeps his kitchen in check. His eyes shift behind his wide-rimmed glasses as he looks up to tell the staff that he’s going to be out for a bit.

He hopes they don’t mess up the back too badly while he’s gone.

Miller is objectively considered one of the best chefs on the SM center for academic achievement (CAA)’s culinary program. Just last year, he brought home gold from the high school culinary competition at the 2019 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Despite his calmness on the outside during the event, that wasn’t the case on the inside. After hours upon hours of training, then tiring and stressful days of competition, it all came down to one single moment.

“When it went down to two I was like, ‘Okay, this is either I did it, or I completely bombed it and I have no idea where I placed.’ So luckily — like I wanted to cry at first — but I didn’t. It was just total rush of emotions. That was the moment my life changed.”

As a result of his skills, Miller’s role at the Broadmoor Bistro, the culinary arts lab restaurant, has evolved.

“I’ve kind of taken on the responsibility of being the so-called sous chef,” Miller said. “That essentially means I am delegating people in the back of house to work on certain projects. I make sure everything’s done and see what we have to order.”

Miller started his career as a chef at a young age working in a family friend’s food truck with his dad, who had previously worked in the food industry himself. Miller still cites him as an inspiration to this day.

“He owned a food truck called Wilma’s,” Miller said. “We did sort of American-style food. We had pulled pork sandwiches at one point, we did some tacos at one point, we did a bunch of stuff. That’s how I got started, working with my dad.”

From his humble beginnings in steak and potatoes, to the present in his signature chicken potato chowder and the chicken roulade he took to competition, Miller has made leagues of progress since his arrival at the CAA. According to Miller, he walked in knowing next to nothing about some of the more vital aspects of cooking and has worked hard to improve.

“I had no knife skills,” Miller said. “When I came here, I had no clue about sanitation; no clue about proper procedure on how to run a restaurant on how to run the back of house. Now I’d say I know sanitation very well. Competition has helped me make  my knife skills perfect. That’s how they want them. I’d say my skills have gone from zero to, I wouldn’t go anywhere near 100, but it’s up there, they’ve improved a lot.”

Thanks to the recognition he has received, Miller now has three scholarships awaiting him:  Johnson and Wales University, Miami University and The Culinary Institute of America. He hasn’t decided where he would like to go yet, but he is excited about his future.

“Within the industry, there’s so many different things you can do,” Miller said. “You can be a chef, or you can go manage a restaurant or you can run an entire hotel. I would definitely like to open my own restaurant at one point. I also have an extreme love for coffee and I don’t know why. I’d like to open up a coffee shop at some point.”

In just a few minutes, he’ll get to go home, well, if the sink isn’t clogged  with dishes, that is. Though, we’ll say that for now, it’s not. Miller now recognized as one of the best high school  chefs in America, is still astonishingly humble.

“One thing I’ve always been told since I was a kid was that there’s always somebody better than you,” Miller said. ”And I still firmly believe that. But if I can keep pushing myself and pushing the boundaries, I think that I could be the best.”