bag, knife

bag, knife

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Mary Sue Milliken brought this knife bag with her when she competed on Top Chef Masters in 2011. Packed with well-worn knives, chopsticks, spatulas, and other utensils, this bag reveals the tools of the trade used by one of its best-known practitioners. Milliken participated in the third season of the Bravo competition show, where notable chefs battle one another in weekly cooking challenges. Chosen as first runner-up, Milliken was awarded $40,000 to be donated to Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization which works to address food insecurity in the United States. Milliken donated this item along with several others to the National Museum of American History after she and Susan Feniger received the Julia Child Award in 2018.
Born and raised in Michigan, Mary Sue Milliken graduated from the Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute in Chicago, Illinois. She met her lifelong business partner Susan Feniger at French restaurant Le Perroquet in 1978. After working in France at the woman-owned Restaurant D’Olympe, she moved to Los Angeles to launch City Café with Feniger 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 several cookbooks, including City Cuisine (1989), Mesa Mexicana (1994) and Cantina: The Best of Casual Mexican Cooking (1996), and served as the cohosts for the radio show Good Food.
While their restaurants and cookbooks received much attention in the culinary world, Milliken and Feniger reached new audiences with their participation in several television series across multiple networks. In 1993, Julia Child invited the duo onto her PBS series Cooking with Master Chefs. The episode was filmed in Mary Sue Milliken’s home kitchen, where the three prepared Thai melon salad, spinach and eggplant curry, and curried popcorn. From 1995 until 1999, Milliken appeared alongside Feniger on the Food Network shows Too Hot Tamales and Tamales World Tour, where they assembled hundreds of dishes during their 396-episode run. Their knowledge of culinary technique, personable approach, and affectionate rapport attracted a loyal following.
Object Name
bag, knife
overall (open): 35 in x 25 in x 3 1/2 in; 88.9 cm x 63.5 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Food: Transforming the American Table
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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