Feb 13, 2024 - Food and Drink

How Des Moines chef Chris Hoffman starts his day

Chris Hoffman holding flour

Chris Hoffmann at Clyde's. Photo: Courtesy of Clyde's Fine Diner

Chris Hoffmann always checks the annual James Beard award nominees when the list is announced at the beginning of the year.

Driving the news: While scrolling the list at home in January, a familiar name popped up β€” his own β€” nominated for Best Chef: Midwest.

  • "It was very hard to believe and very, very exciting," Hoffmann tells Axios.

Flashback: The fine-dining chef from Chicago moved to Des Moines in 2017 to open his first restaurant.

  • Hoffmann didn't know much about the city's dining scene, but now says that was an advantage because he wasn't swayed by other restaurateurs.
  • "It was nice to come in with blinders."

State of play: Since opening Clyde's in 2019, he's offered his favorite comfort foods with an elevated twist at a decent price point, like the house "CFD Burger" ($12) and "Bangers & Mash" ($22).

What's next: Don't expect Hoffmann to open more restaurants anytime soon.

  • Buoyed by the nomination, he wants to get more creative and push his customers to try more unique dishes.
  • "The best version of Clyde's is still yet to come," he says.

Here's how Hoffmann starts his day:

⏰ Wake up: 6:15am.

🍳 Breakfast: Whatever he taste tests from his kids' meals.

πŸ“š What he's reading: Anything on Apple News.

πŸ’‘ His advice for someone who wants to open a restaurant: "My knee-jerk advice is don't do it," he jokes. "That's what everybody told me though."

  • His real advice: Stay away from trends and make whatever you want that is "super delicious."
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