Friday - August 04, 2006 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Ward Daughters is the executive chef at Main Street Station in Downtown Las Vegas. He spent many years working as a chef on Maui, so no coincidence that regular visitors from Hawaii love his daily specials that include a mahimahi plate lunch. He talks here about his early influences, whom he’d most like to have dinner with, and why Vegas is truly a foodie destination.
Where were you born and raised?
I was really lucky to be born in Santa Fe, N. M., which is really a foodie paradise. I traveled a lot and have lived in Albuquerque, San Diego, Los Angeles, Vail and of course, Hawaii.
What got you started on a culinary path?
When I was about 9 years old I was watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr on TV when the other kids were watching cartoons. And then my parents would entertain quite often, so as a child I’d be sent into the kitchen to help the caterers.
Did you know that early that you wanted to be a chef?
Not exactly - although when we went out to dinner I never wanted to order hamburgers, I wanted lobster thermidor. I spent some time teaching at a ski school in my early 20s, and when I realized I wasn’t making enough money I started cooking - and ended up going to the CIA in New York. Everything fell into place from there.
You work with huge quantities of food on a daily basis, supplying buffet lines with hundreds of different dishes. Do you still have the energy to cook when you go home?
Yes. Most of the time it’s my job to cook dinner, and I love it. You’ll rarely get the same meal twice if you come to our house for dinner. I shop for whatever is freshest in the store every night and take it from there.
How is food shopping in the desert?
It’s phenomenal. It rivals anything I’ve seen in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles. We have just an amazing amount of stores that are just full of beautiful, fresh produce, great meats and fresh, high-quality fish. Food shopping in Vegas is simply outstanding!
What’s always in your fridge?
Wine! Milk, butter, cheese, some meat and lots of homemade salad dressing. I make different salads every night.
Who would you say had influenced your career?
Oh, no one who you would know, chef Hartmut Kuntze, and a food and beverage guy, Tony Gillette. I worked with them years ago.
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
Auguste Escoffier. I’d love to have him come over to cook together and then have dinner.
Where do you go to eat when you’re not at Main Street Station?
I probably haven’t been to the same restaurant twice in a long while - there are so many places to try. One of my all-time favorites, though, and a place you should visit when you come here, is Todd’s off Sunset Road. The food is phenomenal. It’s a must visit if you’re in Vegas and want to try a great neighborhood restaurant.
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