coat, chef


Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken wore these chef’s coats in the 1990s. While most people in the food industry wore traditional white chef’s coats in the early 1980s, Milliken and Feniger chose to don brightly colored attire in their restaurant kitchens and on their television shows. The blue coat belonged to Susan Feniger and features “Hot Tamale” embroidery on the sleeve, worn during the filming of Too Hot Tamales, the Food Network show Feniger and Milliken starred on from 1995-1999. The pink coat includes “Border Grill” stitching on the cuff and was worn by Mary Sue Milliken at the pair’s restaurant in Los Angeles. Milliken and Feniger donated these items along with several others to the National Museum of American History after receiving the Julia Child Award in 2018.

Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken met in Chicago in 1978 while working in the largely male kitchen of French restaurant Le Perroquet. Originally from Ottawa Hills, Ohio, Feniger attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and later trained under Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. Mary Sue Milliken grew up in Michigan and graduated from Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute. Both women spent time perfecting techniques in France before reuniting in Los Angeles, California at City Café in 1981. In 1985, they opened CITY Restaurant and introduced Border Grill, putting their own spin on Mexican cuisine. In addition to their restaurants, Milliken and Feniger have collaborated on multiple television series, cookbooks, and the radio show Good Food.

Throughout their 35-year partnership, Milliken and Feniger have focused their energy and influence on positive change within the American food system. As women in a predominantly male industry, they have led efforts to support female chefs in their involvement with the Women Chefs & Restauranteurs organization. Deeply committed to sustainability, their restaurants famously feature locally grown, conscientiously sourced ingredients and plant-based menu options. Both chefs support the efforts of nonprofit Chefs Collaborative, while Susan Feniger serves on the board for the L.A. LGBT Center and Mary Sue Milliken acts as a member of the No Kid Hungry Leadership Council.

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Food Technology


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2018.0245.32Catalog Number: 2018.0245.32Accession Number: 2018.0245

Object Name: coat, chef

Measurements: overall: 27 in x 18 in; 68.58 cm x 45.72 cmsleeve length: 17 in; 43.18 cm


Record Id: nmah_1898535

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