ROBERT MILLER & OLEVINA OROZCO
This month we’re honoring Robert Miller and his grandmother, Olevina Orozco, as our mother(s) of the month. Chef Lisa and Robert have been friends for nearly twenty years, and they’ve shared many a meal together, because even though Robert’s not a mother,
he feeds his good friends as if they’re family. He has regular soirées where he invites at least fifteen people, does all the cooking, and only lets his guests bring the wine. From fancy French feasts to the downhome Mexican food of his youth, Robert’s dinners are always delicious, and his hospitality unparalleled.
Robert learned his love for food from his grandmother, Olevina, who was born in 1919 to Mexican parents in Montana. She and the family eventually moved to California to be migrant farm workers, hoping to create a better life. She loved to cook and had everyone over for dinner each Sunday after church. She would spend all her time in the kitchen, never eating herself, but sending Robert out to make sure her skinny husband was eating. She never hesitated to enlist the help of other family members with the cooking, and Robert happily complied with her demands – “mijo (an endearing Spanish version of “my son”), peel this, mijo, get that,” she’d say.
Thanks to his grandmother, Robert has been cooking since he was six. By age thirteen he orchestrated a four course meal paired with wine and cocktails for a church fellowship dinner at his house. His mother was worried that his food might be too extravagant for their guests, so she made up a batch of enchiladas, just in case. They not only loved Robert’ s food, but stayed until 2:30 am, even though they had to be at church early the next morning! His dinner was such a hit, many other church members pleaded for an invite.
Olevina passed away in 1995, but Robert continues to channel his grandmother through his cooking. Some of her dishes are on our menu this month, and we hope to do them the justice Robert has, through his faithful and loving renditions.