Daniel Poss has replaced Matt Daughaday as executive chef at Juniper in St. Louis’ Central West End
Juniper has named Daniel Poss as its new chief executive, following the recent departure of Matt Daughaday. Poss had served as executive sous chef under Daughaday since joining Juniper in June 2021 and was named one of Sauce’s Ones to Watch for 2022.
“It was the obvious choice,” said Juniper owner John Perkins. “What’s interesting is that when Matt brought Daniel in last summer, even in the first conversations that Matt and I had about Daniel, he made the comment that Dan’s skills were such that he was the kind of guy who could take over if Matt ever left for some reason.
Perkins is more than convinced. “He’s got amazing cooking chops, number one, but he’s also a great leader,” he said. “This position really requires that you have both the ability to lead a team, but also know how to get by in the kitchen. Daniel has both in spades.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Poss worked at acclaimed restaurants, including Nashville’s Husk, before moving to St. Louis in 2017. He was part of Grace Meat + Three’s opening team before moving to Juniper.
Poss said joining Juniper rekindled a love of cooking that takes him back to his early days as a line cook. “I feel good,” Poss said. “I would say that in the 15 years I’ve done cooking professionally, the happiest time I’ve ever had was at one of my first restaurants I was in in Nashville. It was such a cool space, that camaraderie, and I never really found that. When I arrived at Juniper, I had an immediate feeling, and I feel like home.
Perkins said Poss’s promotion to executive chef would ensure a smooth transition in Juniper’s kitchen, but that doesn’t mean the restaurant will stand still. “When there’s a turnover, there’s also an opportunity to reset some things,” Perkins said. “I think Daniel has a really fantastic vision of what we want Southern cuisine to be here at Juniper, partly because of his background and the fact that he grew up where he did, so I I’m thrilled to see this vision come to fruition.”
Poss has described himself as a “huge nerd” for the storytelling aspects of food and cooking. “It’s not just Southern cuisine,” he said. “If I’m obsessed with southern cuisine, it’s simply because I grew up that way, but all foods tell a story. It is simply a matter of preparing the dishes down to the origin of each ingredient.
An example of what this means in practice: Poss is working with Perryville Junction Farm to grow Southern heirloom seeds that haven’t been grown in hundreds of years. “Hopefully we’ll have a good harvest of some of these things,” he said. Poss said he also plays with traditional preservation techniques used in the South. For example, you might see green beans strung together and hung up to dry – “leather britches” for Appalachians. “You’re going to start seeing random vegetables hanging everywhere,” he said.
Daughaday’s influence will always resonate in Poss’ kitchen. “We both had the same vision for the menu,” Poss said. “There are staples he put on that won’t go away.” In fact, a Daughaday signature, Bacon Fried Cornbread, will now bear his name on the Juniper menu. “I have tremendous respect for this man,” Poss said.