Sauce Magazine – 3 meals that changed St. Louis chef Matt Daughaday​’s life

3 meals that changed the life of St. Louis Chef Matt Daughaday

We met Matt Daughaday while he was working for the Niche Food Group, first as a Sous Chef at the Niche Restaurant and then as an Executive Chef at Taste Bar. From there, Reed’s American Table in Maplewood was his first solo business he was with recruited some of the brightest stars on the St. Louis food scene – sommelier Andrey Ivanov (now master sommelier), sommelier Alisha Blackwell-Calvert, and pastry chef Summer Wright, to name a few. With Reeds now closed, Daughaday uses his talent as Executive Chef at Juniper, John Perkins’ Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that combines traditional flavors with solid engineering to create dishes that shine, an approach that feels like Daughaday through and through . Here he shares three meals that changed his life.

Niche restaurant, 2008
The first meal I always go to – it started me on the path that ultimately got me where I am today – is the first time I’ve eaten in the niche restaurant. It was a first date situation so I wanted to pick a nice place, and I’d always heard that Niche was a great place. The meal I ended up having was pork tenderloin on Brussels sprouts; These included shiitake mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onions, and a seasoned carrot puree. It was probably one of the best plates of food, hands down, that I will ever have. It didn’t seem fancy, it didn’t seem out of reach, it just seemed like one of the best things I had ever tried. It contained everything I thought was food. It doesn’t have to be visually stunning; it just has to taste really good.

Eventide Oyster Co., 2014
There’s a restaurant in Portland, Maine called Eventide – they make these rolls, like lobster rolls and oysters, with a variety of ice creams and sides. A simple, easy, casual place, but every bite of food I had there was pretty amazing. I recently made my version of these roles at Juniper. We made a crab roll on a milk roll with canned lemon aioli and Korean chilli flakes.

Portland has the highest density of restaurants per capita or something, but it reinforces the idea that good food can happen anywhere, if only it depicts where you’re fine. No matter how much it can make a difference.

U. City Quality Foods (Stan’s), 1995
Wherever Winslow’s table is [when I was] U. City Quality Foods grew up – we always called it Stan’s, it was a small market. My family had an ongoing loan – it was an old school place; You could just sign whatever you wanted. Stan, the butcher behind the counter, made sandwiches, and his sandwiches were the best in the world to me. My sandwich, which I got all my life, was just turkey and swiss, and later I added mustard. And then at some point I would get iceberg lettuce. And finally, I added Miracle Whip as well. Sandwiches are better if someone else make it for you because I would buy all the same ingredients, I would go home and make this sandwich, and I could never really figure out why its better.

I thought about it as I got older and knew a little more about food; The way he put a sandwich together was different from most people’s. He made meat and then the cheese in the middle and then meat and then the salad that was piled on top. So if you took a bite out of the sandwich it was the texture that was really different. I realized that the order of operations – how you put something together – makes a huge difference. They can all have the same ingredients, but if you don’t do it in that order, you get something completely different.

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