Chef Kelly English
2009 Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef,” Chef Kelly English is inspired by the familiar flavors from his childhood in southern Louisiana and incorporates that inspiration into each dish he cooks. English currently implements this inspiration for food and service in his sister restaurants, Restaurant Iris and The Second Line in Memphis, Tennessee.
Kelly English has had a great deal of success in a relatively short career, resulting from his hard work and passion. After putting himself through college at the University of Mississippi by working as a cook in local kitchens, English decided to get serious about his passion for food. He graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America at the top of his class, and studied both in Spain and France.
After years of working in some of New Orleans most celebrated restaurants, English went to Memphis with hopes of opening his own restaurant. He made that dream a reality with the opening of Restaurant Iris in 2008. In 2010, English was named a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. Also in 2010, he appeared on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and earned the Memphis Restaurant Association’s “Restaurateur of the Year” award. In February 2012, English was named Memphis’ “Prince of Porc” in the national COCHON555 competition, earning him a seat at the 2012 Aspen Food & Wine Festival.
English has been featured in the popular cooking magazines Food & Wine magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray and Bon Appétit, the cookbook Wild Abundance, and has cooked alongside Wolfgang Puck at the American Wine and Food Festival. 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.
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 has received a four-star review from the Commercial Appeal and was voted “Best Fine Dining” and “Best Date Night” in the publication’s “Memphis Most” Reader’s Poll.
Restaurant Iris was also voted Memphis’ “Best Restaurant,” “Best Chef” and “Best Service” four years in a row by Memphis magazine readers. In 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009, Memphis Flyer readers voted English and Restaurant Iris “Best Restaurant” and “Best Chef.” Restaurant Iris was named “Editors Choice: Best Restaurant” by At Home Tennessee, “Best Bet Outside of Louisiana” by Louisiana Life magazine, and “Hot New Restaurant” by Delta magazine.
English’s second restaurant, The Second Line, is located right next door to its older sister in Midtown Memphis. The Second Line boasts a casual atmosphere, complete with traditional New Orleans favorites like poboys, seafood plates, roasted meats, all served in a bar. The Second Line earned 3.5 stars from The Commercial Appeal and continues English’s commitment from Restaurant Iris to use fresh and local ingredients whenever possible on all menu items.