Michelle Matthews, the executive chef of Luna in the Mission District, doesn’t exactly have a hometown. While she was born in Okinawa, Japan, the majority of her childhood was spent traveling the world due to her father’s air force career. Globally influenced by the unique flavors of Spain, France, East Asia and Morocco, Matthews’ well-crafted menu at Luna reflects her own walk of life.
Luna defines itself as a neighborhood restaurant. “The Mission is a very diverse segment of the city. Hence, the global feel,” says Matthews. The chef describes her menu as elevated yet approachable, and always beautifully presented.
She regularly adds unexpected elements to her dishes, like Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Matthews likes to use its unexpected flavors to add depth to her internationally inspired creations. The whisky’s palate of heather honey, spiced dried fruits and peat smoke create a harmonious flavor that makes Highland Park a sophisticated pick for chefs seeking an aromatic batch of whisky.
“Scotch is a bridge point between the acid, spice and vinegar notes of each dish,” Matthews explains. Luna’s whipped goat cheese served with pistachio, fig and apricot is accentuated by the spirit. “This dish is traditionally accompanied with a wine pairing, but I pair it with a Scotch like Highland Park. It blends nicely with the apricots and tempers the acidity of the goat cheese while highlighting the fig.”
The executive chef also highlights sushi, brisket, steak and monkfish as exemplary dishes to share with Highland Park whisky sips. “I love to pair the raw food elements of food with whisky. I feel it tends to cleanse the palette and blends particularly well.”