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 premier restaurant, Restaurant Iris in Memphis, Tennessee, and at Kelly English Steakhouse at Harrah’s St. Louis Casino and Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.
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. The majority of his culinary education, however, came under the direction of award-winning celebrity Chef John Besh.
After many years training under Besh, English was ready to spread his wings. He went to Memphis with hopes of opening his own restaurant and made that dream a reality with the opening of Restaurant Iris in 2008. 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. In 2010 English appeared on the "Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and earned the Memphis Restaurant Association’s “Restaurateur of the Year” award. Also in 2010, he was named a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. English has been featured in the popular cooking magazines 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.
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 Memphis’ “Best Restaurant” and “Best Chef” three years in a row, and “Best Service” four years in a row by Memphis magazine readers. In 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.
At Kelly English Steakhouse, Chef English redefines traditional steakhouse fare by infusing his French-Creole style into all his dishes, reinventing old favorites and introducing new ones. The steakhouse continues his commitment from Restaurant Iris to use fresh and local ingredients whenever possible on all menu items.