Hy-Vee of Newton welcomed chef Dale Miller to their organization on Dec. 4. He has been in the culinary business for more than 35 years. Hy-Vee held a welcome party in their club room Thursday evening in his honor.
Miller has never worked in a retail environment before, but was excited for the change.
“It sounded interesting, and I applied,” Miller said. “I think it will be a lot of fun. I am excited to get to talk and get to know the customers. Hy-Vee carries a lot of products. They have a nice seafood department.”
Before working for Hy-Vee, he was the director and chef at Park Centre in Newton for four years.
Miller has always been interested in furthering his culinary career. From 1983-84, he worked at the the Metropolitan Club in the Willis Tower in Chicago.
“It was really neat,” Miller said. “I worked under a German chef and a French pastry chef. I learned a lot from them. The view was nice.”
“The weirdest dish I cooked was rattlesnake,” Miller said. ‘It was for a big event.”
From 1998 to 2008, he owned a restaurant called The Apple Basket in Montezuma. Some days, he had to work more than 12 hours, but was happy to do so.
“I enjoyed the relationship I had with the employees and the community,” said Miller. “I liked working in a small town. Financially, owning a restaurant added a little more stress.”
Many chefs work 60 to 80 hours a week, which makes having a personal life difficult. In addition, owning a restaurant adds a bigger workload. Miller is happy to have job security where he can concentrate on what he loves best — cooking — and is excited to have his personal life back.
Miller is a big fan of seafood, and says he will have a booth by the seafood section in Hy-Vee. He will also hold classes at the store for customers who want to learn some new recipes or brush up on their cooking skills.
The Hy-Vee organization has encouraged stores to hire chefs to benefit the overall quality of their stores.
“We encourage all of our stores to look at the option of hiring a chef,” Hy-Vee spokeswoman Ruth Comer said. “Some stores have more than one on staff.”
For more information regarding upcoming cooking classes and recipes, visit www.hy-vee.com