Meet the Chef: Bryan McDaniel

Bryan McDaniel

Bryan McDaniel

Title: Executive chef, South of Beale

Age: 25

Hometown: Stillwater, Okla.

Bryan McDaniel

Bryan McDaniel

Who or what was your first cooking influence? (My mother) was the accountant for a country club. During the summertime instead of paying for a baby sitter, I'd just hang out at the pools for the summer. I used to hang out with the guys in the kitchen. They were always the cool guys.

What was the first thing you ever cooked or baked? Me and my buddy liked to cook pasta for girls. I was probably 16.

What made you decide to become a chef? My father (said), "Find a job that you love. 'Cause if you find a job that you love you'll never have to work a day in your life." Cooking was always fun to me. Memories go back to cooking. It's not work whenever I'm in a kitchen.

What was something important that a fellow chef taught you? I was working a kitchen in Orlando. We were really busy one night. We were all just working our hardest. And the chef kind of stopped us for a second and he goes, "Hey, guys, just because we're busy doesn't mean we don't have to do things the right way." That always kind of stuck with me. No matter how busy you are, that doesn't ever give you a reason to take a shortcut or to do something that you normally wouldn't do.

What is the Bryan McDaniel style? I love cooking game. I worked at a hunting lodge up in Colorado for a couple of years, so it was kind of force-fed to cook game every meal. So, that's where my passion is.

Describe a dish you created. Succotash salad. It's pretty much going back to my Oklahoma roots as far as "fry bread." Just a very traditional Native American dish. It's literally exactly like it sounds -- a fried piece of bread. That's kind of my ode to my grandparents. It's a succotash salad -- just traditional corn, beans, squash salad -- with chipotle orange vinaigrette. Then (put it) on the piece of fry bread.

What do you cook or bake at home, if anything? If I'm cooking for my girlfriend, we're usually firing up the grill and doing some very traditional meat and potatoes.

What's your favorite food? I could eat venison every day.

What's your least favorite food? I'm not a fan of desserts.

South of Beale is at 361 South Main; 526-0388.

-- Michael Donahue: 529-2797. donahue@commercialappeal.com

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