Interview with Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara of Sons and Daughters

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Matt McNamara (left) and Teague Moriarty, before the opening of Sons and Daughters.

Before filing my review this week of Sons and Daughters, I spoke to co-chefs Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara. I was curious about how they picked up their knowledge of the foams, gels, powders, emulsions, and other techie tricks they employ at the restaurant, as well as about their connection to the produce they were using.

SFoodie: What's the origin of the name "Sons and Daughters"?

Teague: We were looking at logos for the restaurant, and we kept coming across the these logos from the 1920s through the 1940s, like Thomas and Sons Jewelers or Nancy and Sons. So we put Sons and Daughters together.

How did the restaurant come about?
Matt: Teague and I met in culinary school. He graduated, while I dropped out and moved away from San Francisco. I traveled and worked at a lot of different spots ― Colorado, New York, Las Vegas, Europe ― but we stayed in touch throughout the process. One day, we decided that we still liked each other and wanted to try to make it happen. I moved back here about a year ago, and all the pieces fell into place at the right time.

One of the waiters mentioned that you have a farm.
Matt: It's not a farm. When we were building out the restaurant, we asked ourselves, Who do we know who will let us grow a garden? I talked to my mom and she said, You can have my backyard. [She lives in Los Gatos.] We have a 28-box garden there. The herb salad came about because we had so many herbs growing, and Teague and I were shocked how much one box of planted carrots produces ― it lasted us weeks. Our goal is to use [the backyard produce] as much as possible. My mom or a friend drives up one or two times a week with boxes full of goodies.

How did you learn many of the so-called molecular gastronomy techniques you're using? From restaurants you worked at?
Teague: On my end, I haven't really. Matt and I had the experience of looking around town and seeing similar things on a lot of menus. We wanted to separate ourselves. So I ended up doing a lot of research ― reading books and going online. A lot of the techniques are not incredibly difficult. Le Sanctuaire is right down the street, and when we have a question, we just call them. Through trial and error you can get a lot of these new techniques. We want to try something new and explore new tastes and textures, but at the same time, we're keeping really good, classic flavors. We're not trying to get too weird.

One side note about the mint ice cream. The flavor was so bright and fresh ― did you cold-infuse the milk?
Both cold- and hot-infused. There's a lot of fresh mint in there. The ice cream came about because we had so much mint in the garden. We put so much of it in the ice cream base that it's difficult to stick a spoon in there. The base sits overnight, and then we bring it up to heat the next morning. Then we let it steep again, and throw another fresh bunch of mint in at the end.
 
You just opened for service in the mornings, and the woman I spoke to on the phone said you were serving pastries and light food.
Matt: We're now open between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sundays, same as night service. We saw the morning as a way to interact and have fun with everyone. Every day it's different, depending on what we have on hand. For example, the menu [last] Sunday was French toast, coffee, tea, oysters, and champagne ― that's it. Very small. Today it's blueberry coffee cake, tea, and fresh-squeezed Concord grape juice. This is a touristy area but people do live around here. There aren't a lot of fun places to go to that are strictly local. I'm sure what we're doing will change once we feel out what the community really wants.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Sons and Daughters

708 Bush St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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