We caught up with Chef Jacob Hunter, who heads up the kitchen at The Daily in West Midtown. The go-to cafe and coffee spot that serves up hearty breakfast burritos, avocado toast, veggie bowls, and more is expanding to Inman Park later this year and to Buckhead in 2023. Hunter dishes on his kitchen vibe, where he likes to hang out with his family, and shares his eclectic In the Mix playlist, which you can listen to below.
What attracted you to The Daily and how did your past experience as a chef/culinary director inform the menu?
I loved the fact it was a spot that you could visit daily, no pun intended. The Daily has something for everyone. A small, tight menu with healthy-ish options, but you could still get a bacon, egg and cheese, albeit pimento cheese. I pull from all life experiences – from past positions as a food truck and burger shop owner to eating out at unique and funky fresh joints. At The Daily we strive for a mix of healthy, fun, seasonal, accessible, and delicious food.
The Daily has become known for its own delicious menu, but also for hosting pop-ups on a regular basis. How do pop-ups complement your menu and do you think these kinds of collaborations are here to stay?
I think the pop-ups are a nighttime extension of our menu since we are open during restaurant “bankers hours,” as I like to say. They are a great counterpart to The Daily – providing the same ideals of food we do, but in a P.M. setting. We look for folks that have similarities with us around food and beverage – local when possible, sustainable, fun, healthy-ish, playful, and most importantly delicious.
The pop-ups are here to stay if we can keep finding folks who want to pop up. We love to provide a space for ideas to form and take place, and that is what a pop-up to me is. We are here to support local businesses and want to see concepts grow. You haven’t quite nailed what that brick ‘n mortar space you want to open and you are trying things out before you take the plunge while you finalize what your menu, vibe, service, etc.
When you’re not in the kitchen at The Daily, what are some of your favorite restaurants and hangout spots in ATL?
Well since I have two young children, my wife and I don’t get out as much as we would like. But I would say #1 on my list of faves is Little Bear in Summerhill. Jarret is one of the most truly creative chefs I have met. The vibe, food, and décor at Little Bear is the total package. If we are with the boys, we frequent Zoo Atlana or the O4W Skatepark (my 6-year-old loves to skate). We like Lloyd’s and are always trying to hit Buford Highway when we get the chance – so many amazing dining options and an endless supply of dumplings and noodles for me and my boys, Cash and Teddy.
What’s a must-visit attraction where you take visiting friends or family?
Georgia Aquarium. I’m a sucker for an aquarium. Or an Atlanta United game – so fun. I always say the Buford Highway Farmers Market, too. I know it’s not thought of as an attraction, but for anybody that visits that is in the industry (or not), I try to take them to see all the amazing items from all over the world.
Do you listen to music in the kitchen? What’s your cooking vibe?
I generally don’t unless I am cooking at home. During service, it can be a distraction from calling out orders. Plus trying to play something that six different people and personalities agree on can be a daunting task.
My cooking vibe is pretty relaxed. As I’ve gotten older it’s become simpler and simpler but always the goal is delicious. At home we try to do a different cuisine every night to see what the kids will try.