Sitting Down, Slowing DownOct 15, 2015 12:06PM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
Such is the same with the chefs at the helm. Executive Chef Matt Moser, formerly of Plank, and Chef de Cuisine Ben Maides, formerly of Avoli Osteria, take pride in crafting their own menu, and restaurant, from start to finish.
The pair, however, originally turned down the gig.
“Nick (Bartholomew) originally approached me to be the chef,” Maides says. “I had no intention of leaving Avoli.”
“And I had an opportunity elsewhere,” Moser adds. “But that didn’t pan out.”
The pair eventually ended up recognizing they wanted to run a restaurant.
“We hadn’t not known each other very long,” Moser says. “I met Ben through a mutual friend when they came into Plank.”
They discovered they share a similar approach to cooking, eating, and running a restaurant.
Moser graduated in 2002 from Millard North, and in 2005 from Le Cordon Blue in Portland, Oregon. He came back to Omaha to work at the French Cafe, then traveled to California, where he cooked in Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach. He bounced back to Omaha to V. Mertz, and spent five years with Flagship restaurant group, helping to open Blue Sushi Sake Grills in Denver and Fort Worth.
“For the first time in my career, it’s modern American cuisine,” he said of Market House. “We can do whatever we want.”
While Moser discovered the fresh, local approach to eating so prevalent in his casual-contemporary gig on the West Coast, Maides’ slow-down method of cooking and eating comes from international travel. He was born in Switzerland and moved to Omaha at age 9. He graduated in 2004 from Westside and in 2006 from Metropolitan Community College. Among his passport stamps is San Cascino in Northern Italy, where he worked at a five-star restaurant and learned the style of cooking owner and executive chef Dario Schicke sought for Avoli.
The third note in the triad is Sous Chef Chase Thomsen, who, unlike Maides, Moser knew well.
“I’ve known him since middle school,” Moser says. “He came to Plank and worked for me then moved on to Taxi’s. When I came here I knew he was looking. I know his work ethic, I know his talent, we’re lucky to have him here.”
Moser and Maides agree, and collaborate, on cooking methods and ingredients. They love to cook in their off-hours—Moser with his wife, Cathryn; Maides with his girlfriend. They own dogs. They also like to eat at restaurants in similar ways.
Moser says, “We discovered we both like to order three or four things and just pass them around the table.”
“Let’s stop, let’s sit down, and let’s eat,” Maides says. “We’re going from surviving to enjoying.”
That idea of not just eating, but communal dining, inspired Market House. The seasonal menu contains eight passable small plates and five shared sides, along with soups, a salad, and six larger entree-sized plates.
“We like to go to the starter menu, the smaller plates,” Moser reiterates.
The chefs want their customers to experience their love of food in the same way.
“Ben and I get excited when we see Nancy (Crews) of Swallows Nest come through the door with new vegetables,” says Moser, who himself gardens avidly. “That excitement extends to the front of the house and out to the guests.”
The staff at Market House don’t just tell you that roasted grapes with chèvre is on the menu, they tell you where the grapes and the goat cheese came from. They tell you the story of why they love the farmer who makes the cheese. The process of ordering at Market House, like the process of eating, causes patrons to ease their pace.
Slowing down doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t busy. Several people occupy tables at 2 p.m. on a Monday, lingering over plates of food, and, in a couple of cases, glasses of wine. That makes Moser and Maides happy.
“We’re cooking food we love, and we hope everyone else does, too,” Maides says.
“Yes, we work long hours, but my favorite part of the day is when we get to sit down and talk about what we did, and what we can do better,” Moser adds.
Sitting down, slowing down—a typical day at Market House.