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Kelly English Honored with Outstanding Young Alumni Award

The Ole Miss Alumni Association will be giving out its 40th Outstanding Young Alumni Award on Oct. 17 as part of homecoming weekend. The award goes to those that the university feels have made outstanding contributions to society after graduating.
Kelly head shotAlong with seven other alumns, Kelly English, executive chef/owner of Restaurant Iris in Memphis, as well as owner of The Second Line in Memphis and executive chef of Magnolia House in Biloxi, will be receiving this honor.
Upon graduating from The University, English followed his passion for cooking and attended the Culinary Institute of America. When he finished school in 2008, he returned to New Orleans to work under Chef John Besh in various restaurants throughout the city.
In 2008, he opened his own restaurant in Memphis, Restaurant Iris. In 2010, English was named James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. He has also appeared on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and received Memphis Restaurant Association’s “Restaurateur of the Year” award. English has been featured in Food & Wine magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Bon Appétit, Garden & Gun and the cookbook Wild Abundance. In 2013, he won the Thomas A. Crowe Outstanding Alumnus Award by the School of Applied Sciences at The University.
HottyToddy.com — What was it about cooking that so inspired you?
English —I like the idea of making people smile for a living. The team environment is very important to me.
2013 Chef Kelly English E-1 (2)HottyToddy.com — What was it like to work under Chef John Besh?
English — He is a great guy. Besh is one of the best chefs I know, but an even better person. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.
HottyToddy.com — What gave you the idea to open Restaurant Iris in Memphis in 2008?
English —I had a random weekend off, and it was my father’s birthday, so we traveled to Memphis. Ole Miss was playing Florida. We went to brunch down the street from where Iris is now. Someone introduced themself to me and asked me to check out the building where Iris would be. It was in an old home with a stain glass fleur de lis, which is a big symbol for me, being from New Orleans. There was a rainbow above the building next to it, and I turned to my wife and said ‘A unicorn is going to pop out of a bush any second.’ It couldn’t have been any more perfect. But the credit goes to all the people that helped make Restaurant Iris what it is, not to me.
HottyToddy.com — How does it feel to win the “Outstanding Young Alumni” award?
English —It’s something that I never would even have aspired to receive. I’m floored that they chose me to represent the University and will do my best to uphold this honor.
Miller Hollingsworth is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at mmhollin@go.olemiss.edu.

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