Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken's Biography


Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken's Biography Following their wildly successful series, Too Hot Tamales, Chefs and restaurant owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have gone global with an all-new series, Tamales' World Tour, which began airing nationally September 1st on TV Food Network. Each week, the Chefs focus on a different country or region, with recipes, tips, anecdotes of their personal travels, and all their usual playful bickering and banter.

The Network's spiciest duo was recently featured in USA Today, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and on Oprah, Maury Povich and the Today Show. They also appeared in an episode of Friday night's top rated television show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch on ABC-TV. Their first cooking show, Too Hot Tamales (which debuted in 1995 and is now seen in reruns twice a day on the Network), was named one of the "50 Great Things About Television Now," by TV Guide. Both shows appear in 30 million homes nationwide and receive more viewer mail than almost any other show on the network. Fans across the country jam the phone lines of the pair's Santa Monica restaurant Border Grill, and sacks worth of E-mail have poured in. Too Hot Tamales junkies download recipes from the Border Grill website as well.

What's delighting viewers? Besides the passion, inspiration, and technique of these two women, it's their on-air chemistry that grabs the fans who are both male and female, ranging from gradeschooler to grandparent, amateur and pro alike. But the remarkable thing is the number of fans who don't even cook, yet can't stay away from the pure charisma of these two entertaining Chefs.

It is clear that there has never been a greater demand for the talents of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Besides running their award winning restaurant Border Grill in Santa Monica, California, and taping their television show in New York, they host a weekly radio show in Los Angeles on KCRW, the 2nd largest NPR station in the country. The show, "Good Food," features reports from local farmers' markets and interviews with Chefs, farmers, authors, sommeliers, cheese makers, mushroom foragers, fish mongers, etc.

They have authored four cookbooks: Cooking With Too Hot Tamales, (William Morrow, 1997) offers all the recipe highlights, tricks, tips and photos from their TV show; Cantina, (Sunset, 1996) is part of a Sunset Books series entitled "Casual Cuisines of the World;" Mesa Mexicana (1994) is already in its second printing; and City Cuisine (1989) was nominated for best cookbook by Cooks Magazine.

The Too Hot Tamales each began their cooking careers in high school (Mary Sue in Michigan, Susan in Ohio). Their paths first crossed in 1978 at Chicago's distinguished Le Perroquet, as the first women ever to work in the prestigious kitchen. Feniger went on to California to work with Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. They met again in France where Milliken worked at Restaurant d'Olympe in Paris, and Feniger at L'Oasis, a three star restaurant on the French Riviera. They knew even then they would work together some day.

Upon their reunion in Los Angeles in 1981, the two opened the tiny City Cafe on Melrose Avenue with only enough kitchen space for a hotplate. They quickly outgrew the little cafe. With the opening of spacious CITY restaurant (1985-1994), Milliken and Feniger changed the culinary landscape of Los Angeles forever. CITY's eclectic cuisine seasoned by their formal training and influenced by travels to Thailand, India, Mexico, and other exotic locales, delighted the palates of Los Angeles restaurant goers and food critics alike. This was followed by the opening of Border Grill, (the first location was on Melrose Avenue, 1985-1991, and the second and present location on 4th Street in Santa Monica, opened in 1990) which was named one of the forty best restaurants by the LA Times, and one of the best restaurants in America by Gourmet Magazine. Border Grill was honored with Restaurants & Institutions Magazine's prestigious IVY Award 1997.

Milliken and Feniger are active board members of many culinary associations, including a founding role in Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, which fosters the careers of women in restaurants, and Chef's Collaborative 2000, which advocates the use of sustainably grown products in the food service industry. They contribute real leadership and time to numerous charities, notably the Scleroderma Research Foundation, for which they have spearheaded a dinner/comedy event for the last nine years, repeatedly attracting comic legends like Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Milliken and Feniger's awards and honors are too numerable to list, but two in particular stand out in their trailblazing careers. In 1988, they were the first women ever to receive the California Restaurant Writer's prestigious "Chef of the Year" award. And in 1993, they were two of only sixteen Chefs, worldwide, to be invited to cook with the legendary Julia Child in her PBS series "Home Cooking With Master Chefs."

Their days are spent reviewing menus, writing and testing recipes, researching and planning for their TV and radio shows, and managing a busy kitchen and administrative staff. But since Milliken and Feniger love best the interaction with their customers, they still take time to teach classes at their restaurant, and most nights find them visiting with patrons at the Border Grill. With plans for more restaurants in the near future and an all-new series on the TV Food Network, these "Too Hot Tamales" show no signs of cooling off!

"Good Food" is broadcast Saturdays from 11am to 12pm on KCRW(89.9 FM) in Los Angeles.

"Too Hot Tamales" airs nationwide on the Television Food Network weekdays, at 12:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m PST.

"Tamales' World Tour" airs nationwide on the Television Food Network weekdays at 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. PST and weekends at 1:00 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. (Sunday) PST.


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