Madison Tessener joined Millers All Day after time in some of Charleston's top restaurants
Madison Tessener, the executive chef of Millers All Day who helped open the King Street all day breakfast spot, says she's "no longer affiliated" with the restaurant.
The statement from Tessener, who previously worked at Charleston hot spots including FIG, McCrady's, and Charleston Grill, said that she joined the Millers team with a plan to prepare a menu of "outstanding brunch fare, design the kitchen, hire and train a staff. The focus was on food we all enjoy done creatively and consistently ... being able to create an entire menu of my own for the first time and one that was so well received has brought me so much joy. I am very proud of the kitchen staff that worked tireless hours to accommodate being open 7 days per week and 13 hours per day, most of whom had no kitchen experience at all."
The restaurant issued the following statement announcing the change: "We have parted ways with chef Tessener and wish her all the best. Millers remains focused on a brunch-centric food and beverage while providing a memorable experience to our guests," said co-owners Nathan Thurston and Greg Johnsman.
Tessener's departure came suddenly and without severance pay, she says.
Responding to Tessener's claims, Thurston and Johnsman said, "There is rarely one reason for parties to make a decision like this. We wish her the best. Chef Nathan Thurston is overseeing the kitchen operations until a new chef is named."
, Thurston said in hiring Tessener and pastry chef DaVee Harned that, "We sought the best talent we could find for this concept ... And we couldn’t be happier or more enthusiastic about Madison and DaVee. These two are extraordinarily talented and will bring great energy to the restaurant."
When we chatted with Tessener today, she reiterated how hard working her kitchen staff is, and how much she didn't and doesn't want to put them in a position where they have to "take sides."
Ruta Smith file photo
Millers All Day co-owners Greg Johnsman (left) and Nathan Thurston
Tessener says that in the past few months, the restaurant wanted to expand hours and offerings beyond the 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. service she and her team were already working, a move she didn't think was feasible with a small staff.
"And then Saturday I was pulled out in the middle of service and told that I was being let go. Without any other communication or any other information. They said I was not a team player," Tessener told us today.
Tessener defended her leadership style, pointing to her work at Millers training a
staff with little experience, often clocking over 50 hours per week, she says, and missing family events with no extra staff to cover shifts.
"I put my soul into it. I deserved a seat at the table. I deserved to at least be told/made aware of the situation I was in."
When asked what's next, the chef says, "I'm going to be my own boss and I'm going to focus on cooking food that people like to eat."