By Michelle Farnham
July 8, 2023
SANDESTIN – Chef Matthew Krueger is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry, having graduated from the Art Institute of Salt Lake City where he received a degree in culinary arts. Before coming to Ovide as executive chef in the fall of 2022, his career included the kitchens of prestigious luxury resorts across the U.S., such as J&G Grill at the St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Homestead Resort in Utah, and the 5-star Forbes-rated The Lodge at Sea Island Resort in Georgia.
Q: Coming from out West, what do you think of our beach?
A: The Emerald Coast is beautiful. The stunning beaches were one of the reasons we moved here and the pace is much slower. We enjoy cozy weekends in our small town and the community has been wonderful to be a part of. I’m very interested in exploring the fantastic culinary scene here in South Walton. I’ve already started trying some of the local restaurants here at the resort and I’m loving the fresh Florida seafood.
Q: What does your typical workday look like?
A: I don’t really have a typical workday. Every day is different, and that’s what I love about my job. Most days, I start in the kitchen working hands-on with the team. We really focus on consistency and providing a level of excellence. I spend the afternoons with our local vendors discussing new products and ingredients we can incorporate into our menus.
Q: Are you excited to work your first summer season?
A: So excited! The past few months have given my team and me the chance to experiment, try new foods and offerings, and prepare for this coming summer season. Coming from Park City, Utah, I definitely understand the seasonality of the market and the expectation of our guests. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and we are planning to launch several creative menu items at Ovide and The Lobby Bar.
Q: How would you describe the menu at Ovide?
A: The menus are conceptualized by Chef Hugh Acheson, who is very well known across the U.S. for his roles on TV shows and his James Beard Award-winning restaurants. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with him to create menus for Hotel Effie and Ovide. Our cooking styles are similar, and it’s been really fun learning new techniques from him. He’s a great partner as he gives myself and the team a chance to be creative and try new things.
Q: Have you expanded the menu in your time there?
A: Yes, I’ve been able to expand the menu to include Asian-inspired Southern dishes that I think are unique to this area. Additionally, we have a seasonal menu that we launched late last year. For $50, guests can choose a starter, such as Blue Ribbon Gumbo or Crispy Fried Rice, an entree such as the Sweet Potato Gnocchi or Bone-In Pork Chop and a dessert like the Chocolate Pecan Pie and Key Lime pie.
Q: What are your favorites from the Ovide menus?
A: The Poulet Rouge. The skin of the chicken gets so crispy and really locks in the juices. Served with sweet potato puree, warm mushrooms, and an apple and herbs salad, it really is the top dish on the menu. I could eat it every night. We also have a fantastic Braised Short Rib, which has kilt greens, parsnip butter, broccolini and crispy shallots. It’s very tender and flavorful. In terms of drinks, we have a fantastic wine list by Steven Grubbs, who curates all of the wines for Hugh’s restaurants.
Q: What kind of food do you eat when you’re not at work?
A: You may be surprised at this, but my favorite thing to make is pizza! I make fresh dough and homemade pizza sauce, we load on the toppings and pop it in our wood fire pizza oven. It always comes out delicious.
Q: What should readers know about Ovide?
A: Not only is Ovide a great place to eat, but also a really beautiful place to visit. I think sometimes people associate Ovide with celebratory meals like birthdays and anniversaries – and it is a great place to celebrate! However, we also serve brunch on the weekends with a great Bloody Mary bar, and breakfast/lunch daily. In addition to our seasonal menus, we feature 4 to 6 holiday menus every year. When traditional standalone restaurants are closed, we embrace the holidays and special events by coming up with unique dishes curated with seasonal ingredients for an unforgettable dining experience.