His first job involved washing dishes and preparing basic food at Athens’ Normal Town Café, well-known for its Southern “meat and three” style menu. Over the next four years, Castro worked his way around the city, honing his culinary craft at established eateries such as the Blind Pig Tavern, Harry Bissett’s Bayou Grill, East West Bistro and Athens Country Club, to name a few.
Under Chef Chris McCook, CEC at Athens Country Club, Castro began learning classic techniques and decided to pursue the culinary arts as his life’s career. Chef McCook is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Castro’s respect for Chef McCook inspired him to also enroll in the renowned school. After graduating high school in 2001, Castro applied to the CIA with a recommendation from his mentor and was accepted.
During his tenure at the CIA, Castro further developed his skills by working at upstate New York and New York City establishments, including The Woods, Paco’s, db Bistro and New World Home Cooking Company.
Castro returned to the Georgia culinary scene in early 2004, first to Athens and then to Atlanta, seeking a more competitive food scene. He landed his first sous chef assignment in 2005 at Aspen Signature Steaks in Kennesaw before moving to Pura Vida in Atlanta to work for Chef Hector Santiago.
Castro then opened ûrban as a sous chef with friend and chef, Mix McCroy. In 2007, Castro was hired by Pano Karatassos of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and began working at Bluepointe under Chef Doug Turbush. From 2007 to 2010, Castro served as sous chef at Chops Lobster Bar and also briefly worked at Buckhead Diner.
After working with Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Castro pursued Christian mission work in Haiti after the earthquake. Upon his return home, he owned and operated a farmers market business, specializing in sustainable ready-to-eat foods. In October 2011, Castro contacted his former mentor, Turbush, who was opening Seed in Marietta. He assisted with the opening and eventually became sous chef. After his tenure at Seed, Castro served as chef de cuisine at Bistro VG before joining The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell.
Castro is the youngest of five siblings. His place in life has provided him with an interesting point of view. The 30-year-old chef has been fortunate to be able to travel abroad and experience food and culture firsthand in his father’s homeland of Mexico as well as Canada, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Haiti. Castro is an avid reader who enjoys history and painting, and also holds a second degree black belt in Taekwondo.
A native of Marietta, Georgia Chris Preston was first drawn to cooking by influences from his family. These influences first came from his mother’s Polish roots and his grandmothers southern cooking. His earliest memory of food derives from his grandparent’s farm where he spent a lot of his childhood summers. The vegetables were always fresh, and his grandmother always knew what to do with them.
Chef Preston has been in the industry for ten years, and has worked in some of Atlanta’s finest establishments. Some of these restaurants include Canoe, and Local There.
Outside of Atlanta, Chris has performed stages at I’Espalier in Boston; as well as Craigie on Main street in Cambridge. Chris’s involvement with food extends beyond the kitchen. He is a senior at Kennesaw State University, where he is majoring in Environmental Policy. He hopes to one day help solve the world’s food problems.
Paul gained an interest in cooking at a very early age spending lots of time in the kitchen helping with nightly home-cooked meals and large family holiday gatherings. With a father coming from a French and Italian background and a mother with a Welsh and German background he was exposed to a wide variety of traditional cuisines and techniques.
His earliest gastro memory was when his mother taught him how to make monkey bread and banana bread from her mother’s family recipes. Being able to combine all kinds of ingredients into soothing so delicious that the whole family loved, sparked a passion to keep going into a hands on career.
Paul began his career at a local hotel in upstate New York as a high school intern. He learned all kinds of preparations and techniques in a fun, fast paced environment. That summer spent some time in the front of the house as a busboy but went back to the kitchen. He went on to work every position that kitchen had to offer while earning his first culinary arts degree at Schenectady County Community College. He then moved on to Providence Rhode Island at got his bachelor’s in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University.
During his career he has had the privilege of being a Sous chef under James Gee at Cittanuova, in East Hampton New York. He then moved to Las Vegas to help open Jean-George Steakhouse in the then new Aria Hotel under Jean-George Vongerichten and Executive Chef Robert Moore. While in Las Vegas Paul met his wife a native of Georgia after marring the relocated here, he has been at the mill for a year now a chef Castro’s Sous chef.
Food has always been the ribbon that strung Meghan’s family bonds together. Coon’s passion for food was ignited by her Mother, who was a 2nd generation Italian American. Their Saturday’s together were filled with food adventures. They would begin their Saturdays at the library, and her mother would pick exotic destination for that evening’s supper. Next it was off to the local German specialty shop, or head to the Korean side of town, all sorts of Farmers Markets and foreign specialty shops.
Meghan attended college, but when it came time to enter the work force, the only job applications she wanted to look at were in kitchens. She finally got her opportunity in a kitchen position, and leaped at the opportunity.
Five years has passed, after hard work and paying her dues she has landed at the Mill. A farm to table, independently owned establishment that she loves. Coons has worked under Executive Chef Ben Castro for the past year as his Pastry Sous Chef. She helps with menu design, concepts, and execution of the dessert menus Meghan loves the restaurant industry. She feel very blessed to have her passion, be her day job.