Rob McDaniel

Alexander City, AL

  • Semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef in the South
  • Alabama representative for the 2013 Great American Seafood Cook-Off

Hailing from the small town of Haleyville, Chef Rob McDaniel is Alabama through and through.

Having had a love affair with food from a young age, McDaniel earned a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University. He then headed north to earn a culinary degree from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, where he developed a passion for local and organic farming.

Upon his return voyage to his home state, McDaniel began learning from two of Birmingham’s best restaurateurs: Chris Hastings of Hot And Hot Fish Club and Nick Pihakis of Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q.

It didn’t take long for McDaniel to blaze his own culinary trail. In April of 2009, McDaniel teamed up with Russell Lands On Lake Martin to open SpringHouse, a beautiful lakeside restaurant that emphasizes local ingredients (especially Alabama Gulf Seafood) in a sophisticated yet comfortable setting. In 2013, McDaniel also assumed a general manager role at Lake Martin’s recently re-opened Kowaliga Restaurant.

In the spring of 2013, McDaniel was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef in the South, an honor that he followed up by representing Alabama at the 2013 Great American Seafood Cook-Off.

“SpringHouse tries to only use Gulf Seafood, and Alabama Gulf Seafood is consistently the best source for quality seafood. It’s a delicious and consistent product that we love to use. Why would I buy from anywhere else when I’ve got some of the best in the world coming from my home state?”

On The Menu

McDaniel is the culinary king of Lake Martin. As the executive chef at SpringHouse, he gives Alabama’s fine dining scene a healthy dose of Southernness. And farther down the shore at Kowaliga Restaurant (which reopened in 2013 after burning down many years ago), McDaniel serves as general manager.