Archive for May 10th, 2008

my parents

May 10th, 2008

My parents met early in the summer of 1967 in Portland, Oregon.  My mother, a recent immigrant from Germany, began waiting tables at the Rheinlander German Restaurant.  My father soon left to renovate Horst Mager’s Irish restaurant, the Little Blarney Castle.  My father, Dan Miller, did well there until a confrontation with the chef caused him to realize that he didn’t know how to cook.  He resigned his position at the Little Blarney Castle and asked Horst Mager’s advice as to the best food person to learn from in Portland.

In 1968 my father began to work for Willie Madsen in the kitchen of the Portland Hilton.   Willie Madsen had moved to the Portland Hilton from the Hong Kong Hilton and, despite frequent offers, refused to leave Portland, Oregon.  Chef Madsen would tell my father at the end of every shift whether his services were needed the next day…even on the eve of his wedding with my mother in 1970.

Willie Madsen showed up at my parents’ wedding party in a blue brocade tuxedo with six cases of champagne and the rock group Iron Butterfly.

In 1969 Miller started moonlighting on Chef Madsen at the Ringside.

In 1973 Dan bought a coffee shop in San Bernadino and called it Country Dan’s.  The fried chicken was so good  Johnny Cash heartily belched approval in a radio advertisement.

After many years my dad moved to the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.  He worked, fished and ate with the native people of the peninsula.

In 1988 he took over the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau Alaska.  He built a restaurant off the side of the historic bar and sold fresh Alaskan fish and chowders and crab to the folks piling off the cruise boat. The locals came in droves.  I worked two summers there…not the first time I had worked in the restaurant with my father, but the first time I felt the passion that comes from preparing good food for people.