Bar Conversations

Episode 65: Bourbon, food and barrel picks with Chef Ouita Michel

Whiskey Weeks 2021 continues with award-winning chef and entrepreneur Chef Ouita Michel who talks about bourbon, food, barrel picks and her new cookbook “Just a Few Miles South.” Ouita talks about how she became a chef, sharing her love of food with others, working on the cookbook, the role beer/bourbon/wine play at a restaurant, bourbon clubs, barrel picks, what’s next and more.


Chef Ouita Michel joins us at the 1-minute mark as Whiskey Weeks 2021 continues.

  • What’s harder? Running a kitchen, owning a restaurant or writing a book?
  • You were a political science major, debate team member (second woman to win a national debate championship in 1986), how did you become a chef?
  • Why did you decide to do a book and a cookbook now? 
  • How did “Just a Few Miles South” come together? Why did you decide to use recipes from your restaurants? 
  • What’s it like sharing your love of food with others?
  • Did you ever believe you’d own multiple restaurants?
  • How do you balance having restaurants that are different from each other (seafood, comfort food, bourbon bar, etc.)?
  • Balancing everything and being able to run a restaurant during the pandemic 
  • What role does food play in everyday life? I feel like your restaurants have that neighborhood feel and also you want to be a good neighbor 
  • Beer, bourbon and wine play a role at your restaurants (Smithtown is located at West Sixth Brewery and The Thirsty Fox features fine bourbons), what role is that?
  • Integrating those local beverages into recipes 
  • Creating a Bourbon Club and Wine Guild 
  • Going on your first bourbon barrel selection 
  • James Beard Foundation Award nominee, including nominations for Outstanding Restaurateur and Best Chef Southeast, what’s that like?
  • What’s next for you?
  • What can folks expect with the book and where can they find it?

SHOW PARTNER: Check out Nose Your Bourbon social media and etsy so you can train your nose to find the nuances in bourbon. Visit or

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