juniper executive chef daniel poss photo by greg rannells

Daniel Poss has replaced Matt Daughaday as executive chef at Juniper in St. Louis' Central West End

Juniper has appointed Daniel Poss as its new executive chef, 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 among Sauce’s Ones to Watch for 2022.

“It was the obvious choice,” said Juniper owner John Perkins. “The interesting thing was that when Matt brought Daniel on last summer, even in the early conversations that Matt and I had about Daniel, he made the comment that Dan’s skillset was such that he was the kind of guy that could take over if Matt ever left for whatever reason.” 

Perkins is more than convinced. “He's got incredible cooking chops, number one, but he's also a great leader,” he said. “That position really requires you to have both the ability to lead a team, but also know your way around the kitchen. Daniel's got both of those in spades.”

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Poss worked at celebrated restaurants including Nashville’s Husk before moving to St. Louis in 2017. He was part of the opening team at Grace Meat + Three before his move to Juniper.  

Poss said joining Juniper has reignited an enjoyment of cooking that takes him back to his earliest days as a line cook. “I feel great,” Poss said. “I would say in the 15 years of cooking that I've been doing professionally, the happiest time I've ever had was at one of my first restaurants I was at in Nashville. It was such a cool space, that camaraderie, and I haven't really ever found that. When I came to Juniper, it was an immediate feeling of that, and so it feels like home.” 

Perkins said that Poss’ promotion to executive chef would ensure a smooth transition in the kitchen at Juniper, but that doesn’t mean the restaurant will be standing still. “When there's turnover, there's also an opportunity to hit reset on some things,” Perkins said. “I think Daniel’s got a really fantastic vision for what we want Southern food here at Juniper to be, in part because of his background and growing up where he did, so I'm excited to see that vision come to fruition.”

Poss described himself as a “huge nerd” for the storytelling aspects of food and cooking. “It’s not just Southern cuisine,” he said. “The reason I'm obsessed with Southern cuisine is just because that's how I grew up, but all food tells a story. It’s just preparing the dishes all the way down to where each ingredient came from.” 

One example of what that means in practice: Poss is working with Perryville Junction Farm to grow heirloom seeds from the South haven’t been cultivated for hundreds of years. “Hopefully we’ll have a good crop of some of those things,” he said. Poss said he’s also toying with traditional preservation techniques used in the South. For example, you might see green beans strung together and hung up to dry – “leather britches” to Appalachian people. “You're going to start seeing random vegetables just hanging up everywhere,” he said. 

Daughaday’s influence will still resonate in Poss’ kitchen. “We both had the same vision for the menu,” Poss said. “There are staples that he put on that aren’t going to go away.” In fact, one Daughaday signature, the bacon fat-fried cornbread, will now bear his name on the Juniper menu. “I respect the man immensely,” Poss said.