Restaurateur of the Year: Small/Independent: Miller Union
By Nancy Wood
Last fall, Steven Satterfield, executive chef and co-owner of Miller Union, showed up at the Chefs Collaborative 8th Annual Summit sporting a T-shirt that said it all: Change Menus. Change Lives.
As the local leader of the non-pro t that promotes food sustainability, Satterfield has been changing the tastes and raising the standards of diners at his award-winning West Midtown restaurant since 2009, when he joined forces with co-owner and general manager Neal McCarthy to launch Miller Union.
With McCarthy, who oversees the front of the house and the restaurant’s acclaimed wine program, Satter eld has created a comfortable yet sophisticated atmosphere where, as he says, “people can gather over a meal in a shared space that makes them feel a part of their community.”
Separately, Satterfield and McCarthy spent 20 years rising through the ranks at other restaurants before opening Miller Union. “It only made sense for us to start our own place,” says Satterfield. While he admits owning and running a restaurant has daily challenges, “to see the impact we make on the local food community is very satisfying.”
Miller Union’s support of local farmers as well as the restaurant’s commitment to purchasing sustainable products and only serving humanely raised proteins place Satterfield and McCarthy squarely in the forefront of the restaurant industry’s green movement.
In addition to creating Miller Union’s recycling and composting program, Satterfield has become known as a chef who is deeply committed to cutting down on excessive food waste. His 2015 cookbook, Root to Leaf, teaches cooks how to use every part of the fruits and vegetables they buy. And Sur La Table chef Joel Gamoran, who featured Satterfield in an episode of his TV series Scraps, was quoted as saying, “If there was a ranking, Steven Satterfield might be No. 1 in the country when it comes to food waste. … He’s the face of it. He literally embodies the whole movement.”
Frequently listed on best restaurant lists by the likes of Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Esquire, Miller Union’s Southern- inspired menus are driven by seasonal harvests and Satterfield’s organic approach. In 2017 alone, Satterfield won a coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast, while certi ed sommelier McCarthy’s carefully selected wines from small organic producers was a nalist for “Outstanding Wine Program” by the James Beard Foundation. To top it o , Miller Union was named one of the best restaurants in the U.S. by Eater National.
The standards the duo have for themselves set Miller Union apart from the crowded restaurant landscape in Atlanta and clearly are rooted in Satterfield’s own advice to those who aspire to his success: “Hold yourself to a high standard, don’t let your ego get in the way, try to be objective and treat others with respect.”