Fresh from an appearance on “The Today Show” Wednesday and “Martha Stewart’s Morning Living” on Sirius XM radio Thursday, celebrity chef Mary Sue Milliken arrives for a full slate of activities on the campus of Mercyhurst University Friday.
Milliken, a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” program and owner of the critically acclaimed Border Grill, serving modern Mexican food in downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Las Vegas and at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, will spend the morning with representatives of Mercyhurst’s Parkhurst dining service. She’ll talk to chefs and managers from western Pennsylvania.
From noon to 1 p.m., Chef Milliken will make rounds in Egan Dining Hall, visiting with students and sampling the “Local Street Foods and Chili Lunch.” She’ll engage students and faculty in the hospitality management program during the afternoon and offer a Mercyhurst community-only talk and book-signing in Taylor Little Theatre at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend a “CHOPPED” culinary competition among student teams from 8 to 11 p.m. in Egan. A panel of judges, headed by Milliken, will assess the competitors’ skills.
Millken’s visit is sponsored by Mercyhurst Student Government and Parkhurst and was made possible by Michelle Tobin of the Mercyhurst Counseling Center. The two grew up together in Lansing, MI.
"She used to cook for me whenever I was at her house," said Tobin. "She knew she wanted to be a chef ... even at a young age, she was that focused."
Best known for her authentic Mexican cuisine, Milliken has set the standard for gourmet Mexican fare for more than two decades, co-authoring five cookbooks, including “Cooking with Too Hot Tamales,” “Mesa Mexicana,” and “City Cuisine.”
A trailblazer, she was the first female chef to work at Chicago's prestigious Le Perroquet in the late 1970s, going on to train at a Michelin two-star, female chef-owned restaurant in Paris, and later joining a handful of progressive women chefs to found Women Chefs & Restaurateurs.