In 2005, Odessa Piper sold L'Etoile to her Chef de cuisine Tory Miller and his sister, Traci Miller. They have not only kept L’Etoile’s traditions alive but are especially committed to supporting the newest generation of farmers. They encouraged young farmers to explore heirloom varieties, heritage breed animals, and the production of new artisan products while also working to preserve Wisconsin’s fertile terroir. L’Etoile later expanded their first-floor bakery and opened Café Soleil, a casual lunch spot offering a variety of made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches, and sweets. In just the first five years of ownership, L’Etoile, under Chef Tory, won (and continues to win) high praise both locally and nationally for its excellence in food and service. Notable recognitions include Gourmet Magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Restaurants”, Saveur’s “Top 100” and the title of Madison Magazine’s “2010 Chef of the Year”.
In June of 2007, co-owner Dianne Christensen joined the team and they began dreaming up a new space for L’Etoile and the addition of a gastropub they’d call Graze. As is true with all their other endeavors, their motivation stemmed from a desire to expand their support of local farmers by inviting a larger audience and highlight the abundance of Wisconsins vastly rich agricultural landscape.
Founder and former owner of L'Etoile Restaurant
Former owner Odessa Piper, a pioneer of the sustainable food movement, prided herself in the cultivation of strong farm-to-restaurant relationships. L’Etoile has served local and seasonal offerings since it first opened its doors in 1976.
Odessa's support of Madison area farms and artisan producers helped grow what is now the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the nation. Through the years, L’Etoile has become known as a “shining star” in the Midwest for its consistency in quality and service.
At L'Etoile, we believe supporting our local farmers and artisan producers has a direct impact on our community: it strengthens local economies; it encourages variety and enriches our food traditions; it promotes health and wellness by offering menus made from natural, seasonal and wholesome ingredients.
We also believe that we can play a role in educating others. We begin every dinner service with a review of our purveyors and instill in all our employees the importance of knowing where our ingredients are sourced. We continue to highlight the importance by offering seasonal field trips to some of our local farms in the area and encourage those interested to join Chef Tory and his foragers at the Dane County Farmers market on Saturday mornings.