The Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center Restaurant


Matt Shourds

Executive Chef, Restaurant Associates at the Kennedy Center

a plate of crabcakes

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," he said, "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."