Tory Miller, Executive Chef and Co-Proprietor
Chef Tory grew up working in his grandparents' diner in Racine, Wisconsin before moving to New York to attend the French Culinary Institute and work his way through some of the cities' finest kitchens, including Bill Telepan's JUdson Grill and Eleven Madison Park. A true Wisconsinite at heart, he returned to Madison to began working under his mentor, Odessa Piper, at L'Etoile, where he found his true passion for local food through the Dane County Farmers' Market. After taking over L'Etoile in 2005 from Odessa, Tory opened his second restaurant, Graze, in 2010, and his third, Sujeo, in 2014, as a way to provide local-sourced cuisine to a larger audience in the Madisonian dining scene. A 2012 recipient of the James Beard Award Best Chef: Midwest, Tory has strived to strengthen Madison's food system, local agriculture, and wider community throughout his career by supporting farmers and purchasing local Wisconsin products for all his restaurants, most recently forming the Madison Area Chefs Network to unite Madison's local chefs for the first time. When he is not working in one of his three restaurants, Tory is spending time with his two young boys, passing along his love of all things delicious.
Dianne Christensen, Co-Proprietor
Dianne Christensen became a co-proprietor in June of 2007. With her long career in economic consulting, she has been instrumental in helping navigate the move of L’Etoile and the opening of Graze. Passionate about food, she taught all her children to enhance their lives by cooking and eating wisely. As a key supporter of L’Etoile’s farm-to-school initiative (CHOW), she’s also helped make healthy eating a priority at Sherman Middle School. L’Etoile and Graze allow Dianne to bring her passion and business expertise together and further their philosophy of well-prepared, local, seasonal foods.
Krys Wachowiak, Co-Proprietor & Director of Operations
Krys is a native of the Fox River Valley and has been active in the restaurant industry since 1992. He joined the L’Etoile team in 2006 as a bartender and has undertaken a number of roles within the restaurants including Bar Manager, Maître d’ Hotel, and General Manager. In 2011, he became Director of Operations and a Co-Proprietor in 2012. Krys’ perspectives on management and hospitality have been deeply influenced by the writings and teachings of Robert Greenleaf, Danny Meyer, Ari Weinzweig and Marcus Buckingham.
Ruben Mendez, Maitre d' and Wine Director
A true bartender at heart, Ruben has worked his way through many of Madison and New York's restaurants, most recently joining L'Etoile in 2010. As both Maitre d' and Wine Director, Ruben hand-selects each offering on the restaurant's extensive wine program, highlighting those regions that complement Chef Tory's signature cooking style. A certified Level Two in the Court of Master Sommeliers, Ruben is looking forward to continuing his training this summer.
Melinda Dorn, Pastry Chef
A transplant from Lake Tahoe, CA, Melinda enjoys working with all the great ingredients grown and produced in Wisconsin. Melinda's cooking style reflects her experiences in many different culinary cities, like Boston, Boulder, Seattle, and even Auckland, New Zealand—where she worked at the award-wining Mudbrick Vineyards. She shares Chef Tory's affinity for hand-spun frozen custard, and looks for every opportunity to sneak her savory culinary background into her final-course offerings.
Itaru Nagano, Chef de Cuisine
A Culinary Institute of America graduate and a dedicated addition to our team, Itaru has worked for culinary greats José Andrés and Tom Colicchio before joining us as Sous Chef in February 2013 and stepping into the Chef de Cuisine role in November 2014.