Hey, y’all! Louisville is chock-full of amazing restaurants – and amazing chefs. The chefs that populate Derby City make it the culinary epicenter that it is. Recently, I had a chance to sit down with one of the city’s best to chat about his career and new role at Proof on Main. I hope you will enjoy reading my Interview With Chef Jeff Dailey.
An Interview With Chef Jeff Dailey: Louisville, Kentucky
1. Chef — thank you for taking the time to sit down with me for an interview. Please start by introducing yourself.
My name is Jeff Dailey and I am the Executive Chef here at Proof on Main.
2. Tell me about your culinary training and experience, as I know it’s extraordinary.
Education wise, I started at Sullivan University in 2005 and I have an Associates in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts along with a Bachelors in Hospitality Management. I’ve been working in the industry for 20 years now and I have been Executive Chef at Corbett’s Restaurant, Brix Wine Bar & Bistro, Harvest Restaurant and Matt Winn Steakhouse at Churchill Downs.
3. What brought you to love food?
My mother started my love of cooking. She was a veteran of the industry and ran her own catering company for a quite a while. I spent many an afternoon at restaurants that she worked at rolling silverware and vacuuming dining rooms in exchange for shrimp cocktail and virgin daiquiris.
4. Do you have a distinct memory of food tied to childhood? For many, myself included, that is where it all started.
The first and most vivid food memory that I have is cooking scrambled eggs when I was 6 years old after seeing Jacque Pepin demonstrating his method on Julia Childs cooking show.
5. What is your favorite cuisine? A favorite dish?
Its hard to pick just one but if I had to, French and Japanese cuisines would be my favorite. One of the best dishes I’ve had in recent memory is a Ricotta Dumpling from Boka in Chicago.
6. What’s the best meal you’ve had while traveling?
The one meal that stands out most in my head is the dinner that I had at The French Laundry years ago. I had been looking forward to that meal for so long and romanticizing it so much in my head that I figured there would be no way that it could live up to the image that I had created. Sure enough though, it did.
7. As the chef of Proof on Main – which, in my opinion, is one of the best restaurants in the city – what’s your vision? What can we expect to see coming out of the kitchen?
My vision for the restaurant is the same that it has always been pretty much everywhere I go. I want to create a place that I want to eat at. The food should have a minimalistic approach but still be very technique driven. Approachable but still unique, while paying homage to all that 21c and Proof on Main are. There is a lot of history in this restaurant and it would be foolish to think that I can ignore that, so I try to blend my style with what I would consider the “brand”.
8. Lastly, when readers come and dine with you at Proof — what dish would you most recommend that they order?
The Chicken. The testament of a restaurant is how they treat a chicken.
Sitting down to chat with Chef Dailey was a joy. We talked for over an hour — everything from what makes Louisville special, the ultimate type of Kentucky fried fish, Kentucky agriculture, and anything else you can imagine. Chef Dailey understands Kentucky; I’m excited to see what he accomplishes at Proof on Main. Do yourself a favor and dine downtown at 21c!
About Proof on Main
Proof on Main showcases a unique, modern approach to locally-sourced cuisine. Partnerships with local farms and regional producers highlight the bounty of the Ohio River Valley + the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Located in Downtown Louisville inside of the 21c Museum Hotel, Proof on Main captivates a devout local following, while also being a must-dine location for tourists. Their cuisine is unique + their bar is chock-full of the Commonwealth’s spirit: Kentucky Bourbon. Visit Proof on Main at the intersection of 7th and Main.