Matt's tools of the trade went from ink pens to poultry shears.
After his plans for studying poetry and getting an MFA derailed from writer's block, Matt worked for the NYC Parks Department and various day jobs while running a record label with his brother for six years.
Matt worked by day and cooked for his brother and himself at night. In 1996, Matt's neighbor gave him a small grill, prompting him to throw a July 4th barbecue for 30 co-workers, even though he'd never cooked ribs before. Matt borrowed cookbooks from the library, watched Food Network's "Grillin' & Chillin'," and tested in his kitchen: "drying citrus peel and grinding it, experimenting with rubs on pork chops." He wrote a barbecue blog called "The Hampton Smoker" while traveling in a trailer with his wife perfecting his craft.
On a recommendation, Matt was recruited as a sous chef by BR Guest's Steve Hanson for his barbecue place Wildwood, responsible for purchasing and running the line -- neither of which he had ever done before.
Matt's reputation brought him to top positions at some of the city's hottest barbecue joints: Rub BBQ, Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Since the pandemic, Matt has been running his made-to-order barbecue business from his backyard smoker in Ridgewood.
SABATIER UTILITY KNIFE
If you look at the edge of it, you can see it's been worn down and it's actually bowed now from being honed and sharpened. It's got a real pronounced bolster and you can't quite sharpen or hone to the edge, and so it gets higher at the heel than at the tip. Which happens a lot to older knives. You can see it's been used.
This was given to me when I was 13 years old by my father, who I had been cooking with for at least seven or eight years by that time. I guess his sous chef assistant.
The handle's cracked. It's kind of the knife you give to a graduate of a cooking school. German steel.
My father told me if I learned to chop an onion and dice and do things like that properly, that he'd buy me my own knife.
And so I worked really hard, and I learned how to do those things. And then after my birthday, as a surprise, he gave me my own knife.
MY FATHER TOLD ME IF I LEARNED TO CHOP AN ONION PROPERLY, THAT HE'D BUY ME MY OWN KNIFE.
To me, it was kind of like getting your green belt or something like that. You realize you're moving up the ladder of wisdom and experience.
It's been everywhere with me. I took it to college. It's been in professional kitchens. It's been in the back of a drawer.
It's impossible for me to look at this knife and not know that my entire culinary history, my experience, my being... is intrinsically tied to what happened the day I got this knife.