When Rachel Miller was 10 years old living in Maine, she would help her grandmother make tomato soup from scratch. That was all the impetus she needed to pursue a career as a chef. After graduating from Johnson and Wales in Charlotte, Miller now runs her own catering business for small parties, covering anything from deli trays to pastries and cakes. She has always enjoyed mixing it up in the kitchen — but it was ice cream from across the pond that sparked her interest, and she now has become a gelato master.
Creative Loafing: How did you get into making gelato?
Rachel Miller: The whole reason I got into it was because there was a gelato place in Maine that I used to go to every week just to get [gelato]. I came down here and found a café in Huntersville that had gelato. They hired me, taught me how to make gelato, and I got to create new things and loved making it. Gelato has less fat content than regular ice cream, so the flavors hit your mouth a lot faster. It's more dense than regular ice cream because when it's in the machine (mixing), there is not a lot of air going on in it. Gelato from scratch is more real and fresh to me as a chef.
How do you see yourself involved in the gelato trade in the future?
I'm going to Central Piedmont Community College now for business. I want to go to a French school for baking and pastries, and then to school in Italy for gelato to learn more about it. Then I want to come back and open up a shop in the United States with French pastries and gelato.
What has been the most challenging culinary task in your career so far?
Garde manger [French way of preparing and presenting cold foods]. It was my last class of the year and I had this really tough teacher. We didn't get along well and I had a partner on the project that didn't do anything to help. I had to make this whole platter and mold certain meats together. It was tough because I knew I had a deadline and I had to do it all by myself when others had help.