Although 7th Settlement is primarily a craft brewery, New Hampshire (and the Seacoast as a whole) has so much to offer – we just couldn’t resist. From fresh vegetables and meats to wonderful local liquors and artisans from every walk, adding a restaurant to Dave and Josh’s dream just made sense. Enter Executive Chef Taylor Miller.
Taylor took a few minutes out of his day to sit down and talk with me.
Taylor got his culinary start young. “I spent too much time making paper cut outs and throwing darts at the walls of my dad’s office,” Miller recalls. “One day he kicked me out and put me to work.” Taylor started work in a cafeteria as a fry cook. All day long, he found himself dropping basket after basket of fries. And while the oil burns (let alone the monotony) can be enough to turn even the most culinarily inclined away from the kitchen, Taylor deeply enjoyed his work. From the beginning he found himself taken under the wings of his superiors. They must have seen the potential in Taylor that 7th Settlement is now fortunate enough to have. With a father in the food and beverage industry, Taylor had every opportunity to hone his skills – and he relished the opportunity.
At 18, Taylor started his first kitchen managing position. With this multifaceted work, including catering, line cooking, kitchen management and more, Taylor cooked his way through school at the Southeast Culinary Institute in St. Augustine, FL.
Fast forward a few formative years and we find Taylor on the way to his family’s cabin in Maine. On the way through New Hampshire he found Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, formally in Dover, NH. There, he studied French Cuisine and furthered his passion and knowledge of cooking.
At 22, Taylor started his first Executive Chef position at the now closed Chestnuts At the Nest in Portsmouth, NH. While his many years of culinary experience have shape him as a chef, Taylor credits Chef Evan Hennessey as a huge inspiration. “Working with Evan Hennessey showed me how much more I could do in the kitchen,” admits Taylor.
Over his 21 years of kitchen experience Taylor has learned as much, if not more, from time than his years of schooling. “I guess I’d say I’m most inspired by the flavors of a region,” Taylor explains. “When I worked in Florida it was all about the fish. And when I was in the Colorado I always had fresh meat to work with.” It should come as no surprise (if you’ve dined at 7th Settlement) that our Executive Chef culls his inspiration from the region. You can ask Taylor a simple question about a dish, or even an ingredient, and he’d talk himself blue, expounding on all the wonderful produce and people in the Seacoast area. “It’s really an inspiration and a challenge – working with farmers and fishermen in the Seacoast,” says Taylor. “There’s nothing like talking with local farms who ask, ‘Can I grow such and such for you? Will you use it’?” Taylor shakes his head and steps back to look at the beautiful bounty just in from Two Toad Farm in Lebanon, ME. “The fact that farmers not only like working with us, but that they ask me what I’d like them to grow – relationships like that make this job worth it. Is it a daily headache sometimes? Yeah. But you ask me where I get my inspiration.” Taylor hands me a deep red, marble sized tomato. It’s sweet and savory – still warm from the fields. In other words, amazing. “Yeah,” he says, smiling. “I get produce in from the farmers, I taste it, and ideas for dishes just come to me. It’s really overwhelming how fortunate I am to work with food like this – in a place like 7th that appreciates quality ingredients.”
Trying to get to the topic of our Best New Restaurant Award, I ask Taylor what the thinks of the accomplishment. “I think it’s really telling,” he says. “Serving and selling out of crazy awesome stuff like pork belly and pork cheeks, making our own sausage, making almost everything from scratch – we’re not doing anything new. We’re doing things mindfully now the way people used to do out of necessity.” Taylor sees people’s acceptance of restaurants like 7th Settlement as a changing of minds. “People are becoming more open to this kind of food,” he explains. “We’re just doing things the way they should be done. And don’t get me started on the craft brewery. New Hampshire has amazing produce, and being able to work with the brewers – recycling spent grain and yeast for breads, using beer to help direct the dishes we make – it’s incredible.”
Needless to say, we are deeply proud of the accomplishment – and thankful to New Hampshire Magazine. Josh and Dave set out to create a New Hampshire craft brewery. But what they got was a farm to table, community supported brewpub. So here’s to many more years for fine brews, farm to table goodness, and constructive community support.
As we like to say around the brewery, “Welcome to 7th Settlement, where all of your dreams come true!”
And remember, don’t buy beer from strangers.