We’re taking an in depth look at the faces and stories behind some of South Market’s shops, restaurants, and businesses. In this edition, we’re meeting Dylan Maisel of The Daily Beet.
The Daily Beet, a restaurant serving clean and simple foods, will open in The Beacon in the Spring of 2017. It will be Maisel’s second restaurant in New Orleans, following the success of JuiceNOLA in St. Roch Market. Before Thanksgiving, we sat down with Dylan at Willa Jean for a cup of coffee.
What inspires the food that you create?
Dylan: “Clean food is the closest thing that comes to my personal culture. They’re foods that are alive, that make you feel energized. Growing up, my parents always had health food restaurants. Rather than having a babysitter, I’d sit in the restaurant. I would interact with the customers. I realized how important it is to make food for people and share that experience. And, also when you’re making healthy, quality food it adds another dimension. It becomes almost romantic in a way. Food is like a seed of life, and it’s a privilege to be able to make people healthy food. Because I grew up with that, it’s a part of me. Since I was a baby it’s what I’ve been eating. It’s what I have in my own house.”
If food is the seed, what role does The Daily Beet play?
Dylan: “Beat is such a strong word. It has a lot of emotion. You have a heartbeat, you think of music, you think of movement. Especially in this town, it has such a pulse. It’s why I love New Orleans. At all times, you feel alive in New Orleans. You can feel your pulse going. The “Daily” means that I want this to become part of people’s routines. You can eat this food everyday, feel great about it, and feel guilt-free. It’s really nice to be a part of someone’s routine. When you have these customers that come in everyday, you get to know them. You get to know their families. It’s one of the nicest parts of having a restaurant, getting to know people. It’s a symbiotic relationship. They make you happy and you make them happy by giving them healthy food.”
Is there anything specific on the menu that invokes your childhood more than anything else?
Dylan: “To me it’s a warm grain bowl. Both of my parents are chefs. My mom is more of a baker and my dad is a chef. My dad’s always been inspired by a lot of Asian cuisine. There’s something about warm rice, pickled vegetables, and steamed greens. It’s so simple. I don’t want to do much to my food. When you use quality ingredients and you prepare them in a simple way, I think it’s some of the best food. I don’t want it to be overly sophisticated. I just want to make simple food that has the flavor within the ingredients.”
Where are you looking for ingredients for The Daily Beet?
Dylan: “I want to work with a lot of local farms. At JuiceNOLA, we already work with different local farms. It makes it more meaningful for me. I think the local farm system in Louisiana is growing, especially with urban farms. One of my friends started an urban farm last year in my neighborhood, and he grows incredible things. When you can take peppers or cucumbers right off of the vine and incorporate it into dishes, it makes things really special. When you support different local business, whether it’s a baker or a farmer, you also are supported by them. It’s always been important to me. I grew up as a little kid in the country so all of my friends had farms. It’s always been important [to me] to be close to your food. And, it can be more expensive to buy local foods sometimes, but the quality is better, and I’m supporting someone’s livelihood.”
JuiceNOLA is staying open in St. Roch so how do you see The Daily Beet fitting in?
Dylan: “It’s the organic next step. It’s a more expanded concept. St. Roch Market has provided an incredible place for me to grow and learn a lot. Now, I’m ready for my own place and to have my own culture and identity within it. I want to create this space that is The Daily Beet and is also me. The Daily Beet is a place where I can sort of create my own community around it. I’m really excited for something as simple as playing reggae in the morning. Things that really make me happy, I think will make my customers happy as well. JuiceNOLA and The Daily Beet have common themes, but at The Daily Beet there will be a lot more options for food and like cocktails, local beer, and wine. I’m excited to experiment more. I’ll have my own big kitchen so there will be more infrastructure for experimentation.”
What about New Orleans inspires you?
Dylan: “New Orleans has this rich food culture. When I think of New Orleans, it’s celebration, food culture, challenges facing the city, but people always bring up food. When someone visits the city, it’s always ‘You have to eat this and this and this.’ It’s never a salad or a smoothie, but I want to spin it a little bit while still paying respect to New Orleans. I love the rich dishes. They make me happy. New Orleans is a lot about sharing food and having conversation over food. It inspires me to create food and a place where you can be nourished and have those conversations over nourishing food.”