chef kelly english
2009 Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef” Kelly English is executive chef/owner of acclaimed Restaurant Iris and The Second Line in Memphis. By virtue of his steadfast approach to contemporary southern cuisine, deeply rooted in his Louisiana upbringing and heavily influenced by his travels around the globe, Chef English has earned his position as one of the most recognized culinary names in the South.
Hospitable as he is talented, Chef English is eager to share his passion for culinary craft, unique cocktails and college football with each and every guest he meets. And he’s no stranger to hard work. English studied pre-law at the University of Mississippi, paying his way through college as a cook in local kitchens. The experience inspired him to shift tracks entirely and pursue his passion for food at the Culinary Institute of America, where in addition to studying abroad in France and Spain, English graduated at the top of his class in 2004.
With culinary degree in hand, Chef English returned to New Orleans to cook under the auspice of Chef John Besh in some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants. English fell in love with Memphis later in 2004 when he moved to head up one of Besh’s restaurants in Tunica, Mississippi. After moving back to New Orleans briefly in 2007, English made the decision to call Memphis home and bought the first restaurant he would call his own, Restaurant Iris. Two years later, English was named a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, appeared on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and earned Memphis Restaurant Association’s “Restaurateur of the Year” award. In February 2012, English was named Memphis’ “Prince of Porc” in the national Cochon555 competition, which landed him a seat at the 2012 Aspen Food & Wine Festival.
English has been featured in Food & Wine magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Bon Appétit, Garden & Gun, and the cookbook Wild Abundance. He believes deeply the power of community and is an avid supporter of the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. English also serves on the Founder’s Council for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and was named a “Young Memphian” by the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce and “Top 40 Under 40” by the Memphis Business Journal in 2013.
About the Restaurants
Restaurant Iris, a charming French-Creole restaurant near the historic Overton Square of midtown Memphis, has taken the Memphis dining scene by storm. Among its many accolades, Restaurant Iris received a four-star review from Commercial Appeal, was voted “Best Fine Dining” and “Best Date Night” in the publication’s Reader’s Poll, and was voted Memphis’ “Best Restaurant,” “Best Chef” and “Best Service” four years in a row by Memphis magazine readers. For four years running, Memphis Flyer readers also voted English “Best Chef” and deemed Restaurant Iris “Best Restaurant.” In 2014, Restaurant Iris was also voted one of “OpenTable Diner’s Choice Most Romantic Restaurants in America.”
English’s The Second Line, is located right next door to its older sister in Midtown Memphis. The Second Line boasts a casual atmosphere complete with Memphis-inspired New Orleans favorites like poboys, seafood plates, roasted meats, and unique cocktails, such as fresh-squeezed Hurricanes, that are always tailor-made. The Second Line continues English’s commitment to use fresh and local ingredients whenever possible and is the perfect spot to catch a Grizzlies game throughout the season.
English’s latest concept, Magnolia House, opens May, 2014 in Mississippi’s new Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino. Magnolia House has the look of a classic Southern home and features a fine dining menu inspired by favorites at Restaurant Iris and The Second Line, with the added local flavor and bounty of Biloxi.