Chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris - Biography

Memphis, TN

February 2014

After putting himself through college at the University of Mississippi by working as a cook in local kitchens, Chef Kelly English decided to get serious about his passion for food and found his way to the Culinary Institute of America. After his time at the CIA, English traveled across Spain and France, absorbing as much of the local culinary traditions as possible. On his return home, he moved to New Orleans, where he worked his way through some of the most celebrated restaurants in the city and the country.

Eventually, English decided to move to Memphis, looking to open his own restaurant and in 2008, he opened Restaurant Iris—a French-Creole restaurant, which reflects his time spent in New Orleans. In 2010, English was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast and appeared on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” In the same year, he went on to win the Memphis Restaurant Association’s Restaurateur of the Year award.

English also serves on the Founder’s Council for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and has been named Top 40 Under 40 by the Memphis Business Journal. In 2013, he went on to open The Second Line, a casual-dining concept, where he serves up traditional New Orleans favorites like po’ boys, seafood plates, and roasted meats.