Chef Amelia Miller is the hands-on, forever-curious creator behind Not Your Nonna’s Pasta. This small, Chicago-based business mirrors Amelia’s passion for sustainable ingredients and high-quality product and this reflected in their small-batch, made to order pastas and kits. Amelia’s ultimate goal is to give you a restaurant quality experience from the comfort of your own home.
What is a “must have” kitchen tool?
This is so tough…everything and anything can be used as a kitchen tool if you’re creative enough! If I have to pick..tweezers. Having a second, clean hand can be clutch.
What is the most overrated kitchen tool?
APPLE PEELERS! Why is that in your kitchen and taking SO this much space???
What ingredient do you always have at home?
Honestly the most simple answer: SALT. Season your food! Salt brings out the most natural elements in your food and little goes a long way.
What is the first dish you learned how to make?
Scrambled eggs – good scrambled eggs.
Amelia Miller discovered cooking when she moved away from home. Up until then, she had a lot of pre-made food, cereal, and PB&J’s and she figured it was time to expand her horizons. She knew she wanted to leave San Francisco and with a sister in Chicago, she decided to pursue a formal education with Kendall College’s Culinary Arts program. Amelia interned for Michelin-starred Sepia and subsequently worked there for three years.
From the beginning, I saw that there was a lot to learn and I was so thankful they offered me a job. Everything in that restaurant is made from scratch. We butchered our own meat, made fresh pasta and charcuterie every day. I learned all of the core “from scratch” skills and beyond, It was thorough, in-depth training and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Dough has always been a draw for Amelia, but not in terms of bread or baking. She had been making pasta for years when she started seeing a market need for fresh, artisan pasta. Not Your Nonna’s felt like the natural next step – and then a whirlwind took off as the company evolved into what it is now. She had been applying for Executive Chef roles in Miami prior to the pandemic, but rolling shutdowns and industry uncertainty brought Chicago back to the front-and-center.
You know at the beginning it was quite nice to relax for a minute but I started feeling stir crazy because I’m so used to the pace of the kitchen. I want to provide people with something new and a great experience in the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Being unknown is the biggest hurdle for a young, independent chef. Chicago is home to huge names and exceptional talent. Amelia and other up-and-coming talent in the industry face off with customers knowing WHERE they have worked, but not knowing who THEY (the new business owners) are.
Not Your Nonna’s isn’t Amelia’s first business, so she knew what she was getting herself into. What she wasn’t expecting was overwhelmingly positive response this company has generated.
Early on I threw a message out on social media that I can send a weekly menu to you via my mailing list. Immediately 340 people subscribed and that was a moment. It gave me some validation and I realized I am going in the right direction.
Amelia definitely believes the the joy of providing incredible pasta to her customers is well worth the hours of lost sleep. She constantly draws inspiration for new products from everywhere, all the time. While she is not a baker, she has been watching a lot of baking shows lately and taking notes about the elements and techniques that can be applied to savory dishes. As a perfectionist, Amelia regularly has to remind herself that her work is not rocket science – it is just cooking.
The restaurant industry itself has provided a place where Amelia feels she fits. While it certainly has its flaws (such unfair wages and petty interpersonal squabbles), she appreciates that the industry at large provides a place for people to be themselves.
The industry is essentially a rag-tag pirate ship of people who come together and we can all express our personalities and creativity together. Chicago is special too because the people here create some of the most amazing food you’ll ever have in your life – and you don’t necessarily have to go to the big name places or spend a lot of money to experience it.
Amelia is excited about the future of Not Your Nonna’s Pasta. She looks forward to planning each weekly menu and hearing back from clients about their experiences with her products. The following she’s developed has continued to grow and expanded across the country – a client from Nashville even made a pick-up while in town! When asked what else she wants people know about her business, all Amelia has to say is: patience is lovely. And we 100% agree!