Justin Sutherland, Miller High Life, and Top Chef Wisconsin toast to good times, interview

Justin Sutherland for Miller High Life, Top Chef Wisconsin partnership
Justin Sutherland for Miller High Life, Top Chef Wisconsin partnership / Miller High Life

Top Chef Season 16 cheftestant and Minnesota resident Justin Sutherland appreciates that “Midwest nice” is more than just a way people act. That welcoming, unpretentious attitude extends to the food and beverages people prefer. With Miller High Life, that iconic champagne of beers is always ready for any and every occasion for all people who come to the table.

Miller High Life is the official beer sponsor of Top Chef Season 21. Given that the new season is set in Wisconsin, the iconic, native beer brand has an opportunity to showcase not only the clean, crisp flavor that goes with everything but also the “every man” beer sentimentality that is part of the brand’s history.

Also, one specific elimination challenge will require the cheftestants to create a high-end meal on a dive bar budget. Whether or not the shag carpet walls, neon light glow, and slightly sticky floor adds to the overall ambiance remains to be seen. But, Miller High Life beer drinkers know it is about the people and the good times that make sipping this beer always a memorable moment.

Ahead of the Top Chef Wisconsin premiere, FoodSided spoke to Chef Justin Sutherland about his collaboration with Miller High Life. Even though the calendar says springtime is here, anyone from the Midwest appreciates that weather can change instantaneously. When those bright, welcoming sunny days hit, everyone is ready to celebrate.

When he thinks about Miller High Life, Sutherland said, “It is this kind of every day celebration when. It is perfect for those warm, summer days. Those of us in the Midwest can have some treacherous winters, but we celebrate our springs and summers outdoors. Whether it is boating on the lake or barbecuing all the time, you want a cold, easy to drink beer. Miller High Life is that refreshing beer.”

Although that nostalgic phrase, “you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer,” might be back in vogue, that simple sentiment gets to the heart of what Miller High Life is all about. As Sutherland commented, “it has a mass appeal because it does not try to be too pretentious. It is not overly hoppy or heavy. It is an every person’s beer that gets it done after a hard day’s work.”

Given that versatility and approachability, the beer works well with almost any food. Sutherland believes that the beer can go with a crisp salad or a fresh, refreshing dish on a hot day. Also, it can pair with a robust barbecue. That ability to complement and contrast is key.

One of the food and beverage pairings that Sutherland is sharing for the Miller High Life and Top Chef Wisconsin collaboration is a fish fry. Whether it is that always delicious walleye or another lake fish, a light, crispy batter with that beer is delicious. A classic fish and chips with an iced cold beer is always a tasty choice.

In some ways, that particular dish leans into an aspect that makes Midwestern food special. Whether it is Wisconsin or Minnesota, those simple, classic dinners have a way of uniting people. From that Friday Fish Fry to the church hot dish, the classic, hearty soul food that grandma would make brings all those memories to the table. It is a taste of family tradition.

Justin Sutherland reflects on his Top Chef experience

As one of the most successful food television culinary competitions, Top Chef cheftestants have a unique bond. While Sutherland admitted that the experience opened many doors for him, it was more than just adding a line to his resume.

He said, “you are inducted into this club. Everyone talks about this Top Chef family and it is very true. You get to work with and collaborate with chefs from all over the country. We all went through that same experience. It is almost a shared trauma in the best way possible. It is one of the greatest things that you can do as a chef.”

Even though Sutherland revealed that “I do not think that I went into a Whole Foods for two years and even seeing a Whole Foods brought back all those memories. At the end of the day, all the good memories always come up from the show.”

That closeness, family bond, and support is clear. From the cheftestants within their own season to participants from across the years, these chefs are forever connected to the infamous phrase, please pack your knives and go.

Although few Top Chef fans will ever be able to step in that fast paced, culinary competition, Miller High Life will be offering fans an opportunity to join the Top Chef Wisconsin fun. Through the Taste the High Life campaign, there will be plenty of culinary and beer surprises that will be revealed throughout Season 21.

With Top Chef Wisconsin airing supersized episodes on Bravo Wednesday nights and streaming episodes on Peacock, it is time to stock the fridge with some Miller High Life. The time is now and the beer is waiting. Ready to raise a glass to the champagne of beers?