Meet our Culinary Team
The Culinary Team on the Steamboat NATCHEZ has a diverse background in food preparation and presentation.
Let us introduce you to two of our food service professsionals and intriguing individuals.
Matthew Hiefnar, Executive Chef - (Staff Photo pending)
Atlanta, GA. Most recently I've worked with the Chattanooga Resort and Hotel in Chattanooga and was part of the opening culinary team for Brio's first casino location in North Carolina. Locally, I was the opening sous chef for Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro in the Garden District and an executive chef with Creole Cuisine in the French Quarter. I was born in Tennessee and consider New Orleans my second home. Someone once told me there's something in the water. I love everything about it. It's a special place that becomes a part of your soul. For me to have an opportunity to not only return, but also to lead one of New Orleans icons, is simply is a dream come true.
Let's Hear from Matthew:
Go-to dish to make at home: My go to dish is a beautifully and simply prepared steak. No frills. Just cooked to a perfect medium, with salt and pepper, finished with some soft butter. Throw in some bread to sop up the delicious juices. It's heaven on a plate!
Ingredient you must have in your pantry: I have to have butter and lard. Everything thing is better with butter or lard.
Favorite Dish: My signature dish is my fried chicken. My career has been a journey to come close to the fried chicken made by my “paw paw”. It was nothing short of incredible. Mine is pretty good but I have a way to go.
Food Philosophy: My style/philosophy is Southern food with a little Creole thrown in. It's simple, beautiful, delicious food. Let your food sing. Don't drown it out with a thousand different ingredients.
Passion for Cooking: My passion comes from my mother. She was my first teacher. By the time I was eight I might not be able to throw a baseball but I made some mean biscuits and gravy. Everyone that came to our home was one of her kids. You always had a place at the table. A good home-cooked meal and a kitchen filled with mouthwatering aromas taught me food is about experiences and memories.
Byron Fennidy, Sous Chef
Meet Byron, a New Orleans local who also received his love of cooking from his father. Byron’s culinary story is nothing short of inspiring. His training began in 2010 as an intern at Café Hope, a culinary program that provides job placement for disadvantaged youth while giving them a hands-on experience money can’t buy. In addition to his expertise is in the culinary field, his hobbies and personal interests lie in real estate.
Byron feels very fortunate for getting a job placement on the Steamboat NATCHEZ . He has risen from cook, to Kitchen Supervisor, and in August 2016 to Sous Chef. The crew are happy to have him, as he has brought a warm personality and a multitude of skills with him.
Let’s hear from Byron:
Go-to dish to make at home: My go to dish at home would be seafoodballs. Pair them with a roux based garlic creole cream sauce and serve over angel hair pasta. The balls are made of a fatty cut of grounded beef as well as ground hot sausage,,green-yellow and red bell peppers, onion, celery, garlic, shrimp, crab and crawfish. Roll them - bake them - eat them! What you are doing there is placing New Orleans all into one bite..
Ingredient you must have in your pantry: Garlic Powder/granulated is a must for me. I use it in dressings, marinades, batters and just about every little thing I do. I'd say I have been known to cause a few garlic breaths out there...
Favorite dish: As a food professional it's hard to pinpoint one dish, but just gimme that crawfish bisque in traditional style with stuffed crawfish head, plenty of tails and river claws. Have to add sides of Mac n'Cheese, potato salad and some sweet peas.
Food Philosophy: It is simple - Eat real food. Ditch the perfection and find the joy. I believe every ingredient should be used in moderation, seasoned and prepared with love. I feel as a Sous Chef these techniques leave little room for error. Treat the Food like you would like it to treat you.
Passion for Cooking: My passion for cooking began as soon as I had permission to use the stove. From that point it was Much Success...and many fails, and each one I learned from. Becoming a good cook was handed down from both sides of my family. They taught me the same dishes in different ways so I could tweak them and make it my own. Motivation came from my dad - if you could name it he could cook it!