Customer Focus

Malo, Des Moines
An Interview with Matthew Howard, Executive Chef

chef standing in front of an artistic wall in a busy restaurant

Executive Chef Matt Howard

How did you get involved in cooking? Could you describe your career path to your job now?
I lived in Spain for my senior year of high school and was exposed to very different food than what I was accustomed to growing up. I took a short cooking class while there, which gave me even more exposure and truly piqued my curiosity about the culinary world. I graduated college in New York and decided to try my hand at working in a kitchen back home in North Carolina. After 8 months I realized it was my passion and decided to go to culinary school back in New York. I attended the French Culinary Institute and cooked for the next 10 years in several restaurants in the city. There I met my wife, originally from Iowa, and about a year and a half ago we moved to Des Moines.

What kinds of meals do you serve? How do you meet the special needs of your customers?
George Formaro’s vision of Malo as a welcoming, communal space with bold, interesting food, flavors, and drinks has set the tone for our entrance into the Des Moines dining scene. Our customers expect bright, fresh flavors and unique interpretations of Latin American cuisine that is also true to the local food community.

square bowl of corn queso sauce on a plate

Malo’s Corn Queso

Why did you begin using Iowa Choice Harvest products? What types of dishes do you prepare using Iowa Choice Harvest foods?
Using local produce and products whenever possible is important to me because it helps to maintain and improve the local food system, which is directly responsible for a healthy, diverse, and vibrant community. All the corn on the menu is from Iowa Choice Harvest and grown within the area. Not only do we help support the people growing food in our community but the product itself is outstanding.

We grind and juice the corn, cook it down with garlic, lime zest and lime juice until it is a thick creamy consistency and incorporate it into our Malo Queso, topped with roasted Cotija cheese. The sweetness of the corn pairs well with the roasted notes of the Cotija and the creaminess of the Queso.

several corn croquettes arranged artistically on a plate

Malo’s Corn Croquettes

What do you like about using Iowa Choice Harvest foods?
Absolutely delicious products, locally grown, and owned by the producers themselves.

You can learn more about Malo at or at 515-244-5000. Visit Malo at or 900 Mulberry Street in Des Moines.

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