maker: chef ernest miller

“Food always has a story. The more you know, the better it tastes.”

I’m sure that the well-traveled, well-taught, highly-skilled Ernest Miller could teach me a thing or two about my mac-n-cheese recipe. I’m also pretty sure that any dish cooked by him would fill not just my belly but my mind with his knowledge of the history of each and every ingredient. I would love to be lucky enough to pull up a chair at a table filled with his farm-fresh, from-scratch culinary creations! Miller is on the right track as he seeks to feed both body and soul with food and classes that reflect the rich history of California.

Enjoy a small taste of Ernest Miller’s passion for history and food.


Editor’s note: This week we say goodbye to our maker weekly writer Aurora who is moving on to focus all of her time on her own on her own pursuits. We are so grateful to have have had Aurora share her DIY and business savvy on Dear Handmade Life. You can catch up with her art and life here. We’re excited to introduce you to our newest Dear Handmade Life contributor, Angie Andre. Angie is a DIY enthusiast, chicken owner, our Patchwork Show vendor coordinator and mother of four. Stay tuned next week for her full bio.

-nicole s.

please introduce yourself.

My name is Ernest Miller, and I am a chef, historian, educator, consultant and speaker who teaches classes in museums, schools, and kitchens throughout Southern California. I grew up in SoCal, but have traveled the world, first as an enlisted Marine, and then as an officer in the Navy. I’ve lived in Japan and on the East Coast, but there is no where I love more than Southern California. I have been a master food preserver since being certified in San Bernardino County in 2009 and relaunched the MFP program in Los Angeles County. I am also a master gardener and co-leader of Slow Food Los Angeles. I have been cooking farmers market fresh produce for nearly a decade, including two-and-a-half years as the executive chef for the Farmer’s Kitchen in Hollywood.  Currently, I am the co-executive chef of Larchmont Charter School West Hollywood – producing farm-fresh, from-scratch meals daily for 310 students from kindergarten through 7th grade as part of Alice Waters’ edible schoolyard program. I am the founder of Rancho La Merced Provisions LLC.

what do you make or do?

I make tools for home food preservation, especially fermentation, as well as a variety of mason jar inspired crafts.

where can we find your creations?

This Etsy shop has Miller’s awesome jars and cool fermentation kits for sale, and Facebook, Twitter Instagram all show photos of Miller’s culinary creative life and work.

how long have you been creating, and is it your full-time job?

I’ve been creating for several years. It is not my full-time job, but it is a part-time job. I left my 60+ hour a week chef’s gig and took a 20-hour a week position to devote more time to my company. After a couple of years of setting the groundwork, I took the (partial) leap into my own company.

when you are not making things, what do you do?

I do a lot of research. Food always has a story. The more you know of the history and the story of food, the better it tastes. Seriously.

is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?

Absolutely a necessity. If I cannot have room to be creative, I begin to feel very frustrated and walled in. It is also a luxury, something I can treat myself with. It is wonderful to be able to devote time and resources to trying new things.

what obstacles have you overcome to lead a creative life?

A lack of resources is always an issue: lack of money, lack of time.

what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?

I’ve got more plans on the drawing board than I can implement. I’m looking forward to bringing new tools to the market.

if money wasn’t an issue, how would your life change in regards to your art?

I could devote more time to making my ideas a reality and devote more time to volunteering and teaching people some of the skills I’ve acquired.

what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives, be they established or just starting out?

Be passionate about what you do. Without passion, the effort and sacrifices will not seem worth it.

ernest miller

fermentation kit

lactofermentation kits

rancho la merced logo

One Comment

  1. Hi Ernest, You came to Bishop to teach our Master Food Preserver students how to make sauerkraut. I just tasted mine tonight for the first time… is ABSOLUTELY delicious. Much better than any store bought sauerkraut. I would like to know if I can purchase another kit? I have a friend in Montebello perhaps she could pick it up for me? How much is the larger model?
    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

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