Cafe Society

Nathan Miller exits head pastry chef post at The Kitchen to launch a line of chocolate

When head pastry chef Nathan Miller's last day at The Kitchen, 1039 Pearl Street, rolls around, it will mark, almost to the day, his sixth anniversary working at the restaurant -- six years of decadent sticky toffee pudding; six years of rich soufflé-like pot au chocolate; and six years of flaky, buttery croissants.

But now the pastry chef is ready to launch other projects, including Massive Confections, a line of hand-crafted chocolate bars.

"A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to make some chocolate for the Boulder Flea Market," he says. "It sold well. And then we took it to Fort Collins and it sold well there, too, so I got a website and logo, and I'm going to go for it. Now I have interested parties and a lot of possible places I can go."

Miller notes that chocolate is just the beginning, and that he's toying with ideas that range from a storefront to a cart or truck from which to sell made-to-order desserts and other confections.

The chef has some serious pastry chops. After earning a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, he honed his skills at several renowned New York City restaurants, including Jean-Georges and Aureole, learning the art of sweets.

"I like to cook," he says. "But after I did an apprenticeship in pastry in Germany, I kept getting pushed into desserts. At some point, I just accepted it."

And chocolate is part of his past.

"I grew up next to Hershey," says Miller, laughing. "I guess it rubbed off."

At Jean-Georges, he also had a chance to work extensively with chocolatiers, and he began making gourmet chocolate bars and truffles, incorporating ingredients like chilies and different varieties of salt. After moving to Boulder, he continued his experimentation, offering truffles and bars on the dessert menu at The Kitchen. And once he got his recipe dialed in, he taught chocolate classes to aspiring pastry chefs at the Culinary School of the Rockies.

Now he's ready to launch. Thus far, he's created a creamy milk chocolate and a smooth, sweet white chocolate under his own packaging, but he'll be crafting renditions of dark, milk and white soon--and finding places to sell them.

After his final day at The Kitchen, which is slated for September 19, Miller will head home to Pennsylvania for some time off, collecting permit paperwork and working out details. And then he'll be back to start his business in earnest.

"Next year is when things will really pop," he says. "Farmers' markets, flea markets, Pearl Street--I'll be all over."

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk