Published on May 13th, 2014 | by Joe Lawler
Malo’s sous chef dishes on D.M. scene
The latest Orchestrate Hospitality restaurant, Malo, officially opens its doors this week. Matt Howard, 30, is the sous chef to Scott Stroud, helping serve up dishes inside the hot new Des Moines Social Club location. Howard relocated to Des Moines last year after 12 years in Manhattan. Meet the man behind the apron.
Q: What was your last job in New York?
I was working at Oceana in midtown Manhattan. I worked there for almost six years, starting as a cook and working my way up to chef de cuisine. My wife is originally from the Des Moines area and we decided we wanted to branch out and go somewhere else. After all the good things I had heard, we decided to move here.
Q: How did you get started working in restaurants?
I did my undergrad at NYU, studying Spanish literature and politics. I got to the point of graduation and was unsure which direction to go in. I had worked on political campaigns and didn’t enjoy that, but had always enjoyed food. I moved home for six months and worked for free at the best restaurant in town until they started paying me. After eight months, I went to the French Culinary School in New York.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Des Moines culinary scene so far?
I think it’s definitely blossoming. People are so passionate here about what they do, and food is such an integral part of it. Food is something people really take to heart here. People have taken an interest in smaller production of food over mass agriculture. I saw that in New York, and being able to see it here only excites me more. I feel lucky to be with these guys (Orchestrate).
Q: What are you going to miss most about New York food and culture?
To be honest, the only thing that has been a change for me is New York really is a 24-hours-a-day city. I lived in either Manhattan or Brooklyn the entire time and there was always something to eat, whether it was five in the morning or midnight. Here it’s a little more tricky. But I have so much more space. For the first time, I have a dishwasher in my apartment.
But in the kitchen, the pace is the same and the stakes are just as high. I‘m excited to see what happens in Des Moines in the next 10 years.
Q: What do you like to cook at home?
Winter here was wonderful, because it gave my wife and me an opportunity to make stews, roasts and braises, which we really enjoy. We met cooking; my wife was a chef in New York. She’s a yoga instructor now, but I still eat very well at home and not of my own doing.
Q: Do you have outside interests beyond cooking?
Just food in general. My wife was raised in an old farmhouse in Anita and my in-laws still live there. We recently tilled ground for a garden, 100 feet by 25 feet, and have been blooming seeds in our apartment. As soon as my father-in-law decides there will be no more frost, we’re going to start laying those down.
Q: Other than Malo, do you have a favorite Orchestrate restaurant so far?
That’s tough. I’ve worked at Centro for several months and their pizzas and pastas are excellent. I’ve had a couple burgers at Zombie Burger and those are phenomenal as well. I have to say, having lived in New York for 12 years, the one thing I miss is that here you can’t walk down the street and just get a slice of pizza. It was perfect when you need a quick snack. But Centro helps make up for that, because the pizza is so good.
Where: Des Moines Social Club, 900 Mulberry St.
Hours: 10 a.m.- p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- a.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday.
Info: malodesmoines.com or 515-244-5000