Chef, Entrepreneur Launch Cold-pressed Juice Brand
Jeremy Miller isn’t interested in being a three Michelin Star chef anymore, even though he achieved that goal with stints at renowned restaurants Jean-Georges in New York City and The French Laundry in California. As he’s gotten older and raised a family, his focus has shifted. These days, more than anything, Miller just wants to make food that helps people.
Even for seasoned chefs like Miller, that can sometimes happen by accident. A few months ago, Miller, his business partner Shannan Monson and their families were in his kitchen trying out a new juicer during the early stages of what would become a new cold-pressed juice business based in Augusta.
Miller grabbed a few ingredients–pineapple, carrots, turmeric, lime–and tossed them into the juicer. What resulted was a surprisingly tasty beverage that the duo later named “Golden Tonic,” one of the five juices at the core of Miller and Monson’s startup Nutrition Simply.
“I just have a passion for creating the option of living a healthy lifestyle,” Miller said. “The idea of a cold-pressed juice business fit my professional vision.”
That vision shifted about five years ago when Miller and his family dove headfirst into an all-vegan diet. After Miller and his wife tried a raw vegan taco recipe with walnuts, cashews and probiotics, his eyes were opened up to “a whole other galaxy,” and he knew it was something he was “meant to do.” He also found fresh, inventive flavor to be just as important as healthy ingredients.
“If you’re not using amazing, pristine ingredients, it’s going to taste terrible,” Miller said of vegan and vegetarian cuisine. “I had a lot of respect for that. As chefs, we have a responsibility to provide options. I dedicated my life to it.”
Miller met Monson, a registered dietician who launched her first nutrition coaching business in Washington D.C., at Oxygen Fitness Studio, a healthy community that became a testing ground for Nutrition Simply. Miller said he and Monson had “the same passion for juice,” and Monson reached out to him about starting a business. Miller had launched a health-based soda business in Atlanta, but it never took off. Even when Miller and his family moved to Augusta, he was skeptical about the city’s reception of healthy cuisine.
But after spending 18 months in his hometown, Miller has a sense that Augustans want it.
In fact, juice is just a side hustle for Miller and Monson. After resigning from his positions as executive chef at Champions Retreat and “chef de cuisine” at Abel Brown, Miller started working with Brad and Havird Usry on a new southern salads concept that is set to open on Broad Street this year. Signature salads, smoothies and grain bowls will be a few items at the core of the restaurant’s menu, with local ingredients being of paramount importance.
“You’ll know the southern salad you’re eating has been grown 30 minutes away, straight out of the ground,” Miller said.
As for Nutrition Simply, Monson said juices like Naked Roots (beet, apple, cucumber, ginger, lime) and Activated Lemonade (charcoal, lemon, agave) have received praise at Oxygen, where the first sample batch of 80 juices sold out three times faster than Monson anticipated. The team has now made Nutrition Simply’s juice available for pick-up and through delivery service Augusta To Go.
“The knowledge that (Jeremy) is bringing from the French Laundry and Jean-Georges and these Michelin star restaurants…the knowledge that he’s gained as someone who is vegan and an animal rights activist…I’ve had juice from all over the country, and hands down, his is the best,” Monson said.
Monson and Miller officially launched their juice line at the end of January with a vegan pop-up dinner at Nutrition Simply’s 12th Street location, which is an integral part of of Monson’s vision for the business. She has created the space to be a dynamic location for dinners, wellness events and a gathering place for creative minds.
If there’s one thing that Monson has learned as an entrepreneur, it’s that genuine community is at the core of a thriving business in today’s world, whether it’s her local business in Augusta or online business that reaches a community of 20,000 female entrepreneurs around the world.
“Our goal is to really create a lifestyle rather than a product, and that’s what we’re aiming with events,” Monson said. “Spring meal planning with recipes and meal prep guides. It really is a lifestyle rather than a one-off product. I think that’s probably our biggest focus, that we can help become a part of your healthy lifestyle and make it easier and more fun and part of a community for you to be living this way rather than trying to sell a product.”
Contact Witt Wells at (901) 319-8877 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.