- Matt ShourdsExecutive Chef
- Som NgamsanithRestaurant General Manager
- William AlmyCatering Chef
- Kendra StephensPastry Chef
Upon entering high school, Matt’s first foray into the world of restaurants was with a small French tavern in Maryland’s Ellicott City, where he began working as a prep cook at the ripe young age of fifteen. From there, Matt slowly worked his way up the chef ranks, where he ultimately found himself becoming more and more enamored with the culinary arts – not just as an occupation but as a lifestyle. Matt says that he didn’t choose this career, it chose him,” While working as a sous chef, Matt earned his associates degree in culinary art in 2008.
Matt was introduced to the late chef/owner and James Beard Award winning recipient for the “2014 Humanitarian of the Year Award,” Matt Haley. Under Haley’s guidance and mentorship, Matt worked diligently as Chef de Cuisine at Blue Coast restaurant located along Delaware’s famed Bethany Beach. It was there that he honed his skills for cooking local, sustainable and seasonal cuisine. Matt continued his career by making the move to Aramark as Executive Chef at the Catholic University of America, where he ultimately worked for the next five years. During his time at the university, Matt’s most notable guest of honor to serve was Pope Francis during his visit to the nation’s capital in fall of 2015.
In 2016 Matt joined Restaurant Associates at the CEB/Gartner building. Having worked for Restaurant Associates nearly two years to date, Matt is a living embodiment of the organization’s mission, “delivering hospitality excellence to premier clients,” to which his passion for the industry can be traced back to his childhood, where he was often found cooking alongside multiple generations of family at home. Matt likes to define his personal style of cooking as “Seasonal new American,” as he likes to cook with the seasons to experience what’s freshest with the shortest travel distance.
Looking back on the evolution of his role as a Chef, Matt attributes Matt Hailey to having the biggest impact on his career, not only in a culinary sense, but also in a personal sense. “He really knew how to give back,”, “this is the whole purpose of the hospitality industry, you serve your community and give back where you can. That’s how I live my life, I have five children and I’m constantly giving back to them, while also trying to improve my community.”
William Almy is a native of Garrett Park, Maryland who attended Salisbury University, where he received a major in History and a minor in Communications. In addition William has had a passion for cooking since he was young, and a food career dating back to 1994, when he began working as a short order cook. While attending Salisbury University Williams food career really became clear when in order to pay his bills he began working as a line cook at Vinny’s La Roma under Chef Vincent Bellia of Palermo Sicily. For the next seven year he learned the techniques and different foods involved in classic Italian cuisine. Upon returning to DC in 2009 Williams love for food and history combined and landed him a job at the Mitsitam Café in the National Museum of the American Indian under then Executive Chef Richard Hetzler. William worked under Hetzler and used his historical background in Native History as well as his acquired cooking skills to advance his career at Mitsitam over the next 3 years. In 2012 William took a job as Executive Chef of The Wild Tomato in Cabin John where he worked for owner Damian Salvatore, of Persimmon Restaurant in Bethesda Maryland for the next 3 years. In 2015 Williams’s interest in Native History and previous work at the Mitsitam Cafe linked him back with new Executive Chef Jerome Grant. He worked with Jerome Grant running the Mitsitam Café, competing in DC food competitions, and helping contribute to local charity events for 2 years before welcoming new Native Chef Freddy Bitsoie. William has continued to use his background in Native History and many years of food experience to push the ideas of native cuisine and traditional food customs throughout the restaurants he has worked over his career.
Kendra Stephens is Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Associates at The John Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Kendra was born in Cleveland Ohio, but grew up in Washington, DC. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Howard University, she realized her interest in food extended far beyond her home kitchen. So she opened Claudette’s Cookies and Pastry, a boutique artisanal catering company specializing in French pastry and confections.
In 2004 Kendra traveled throughout France to broaden her culinary vocabulary while attending the internationally acclaimed culinary school, l’Ecole Ritz Escoffier in Paris. Returning to Washington with new skills, Kendra participated in the collaboration of a new joint venture between Jose Andres and Ridgewells catering. Kendra developed and implemented innovative menus for Wolfgang Puck Catering, CxRA, and Restaurant Associates at the Kennedy Center, where she continues to push the boundaries of the sweet course by combining sweet and savory.
As pastry chef at the Kennedy Center Kendra recognized for her comprehensive knowledge of pastry design and her innovative approach to a customized dining experience. A talented chef, that infuses high quality, fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients with a commitment to a memorable experience for every guest.