Chef Matty Matheson is the executive chef of The Social Group, a group of restaurants consisting of some of Toronto’s top culinary destinations: Parts & Labour, P&L Burger, The Hoxton and Dog & Bear. He’s also the founder of The Group of Seven Chefs, winner of the Burger Wars reality show and a Vice TV host.
It’s an impressive and constantly growing resume that has quickly solidified his position as a member of Toronto’s culinary elite.
“What’s really exciting about what’s currently happening here is the massive insurgence of smart, young talented chefs who are doing amazing things in food, but it’s going to take time for them to hold on.” – Matty Matheson on Toronto’s Food Scene
Matheson was first inspired to cook by his grandfather, who owned a seafood restaurant in P.E.I. He started his formal training as a chef at Humber’s Culinary School, but dropped out two weeks before the end of his three year program to go on tour with a group of hardcore bands.
After the realization that a career as a chef was much more appealing to him than being a full-time roadie, he returned to Toronto, where he made a name for himself at two of the city’s most popular french restaurants, Le Sélect and then La Palette.
His love and appreciation for food culture is evident in his latest Vice project, Keep It Canada. Half cooking program and half Bourdain-esque travel series, the show has Matheson venturing from coast-to-coast to provide an inside look into Canada’s culinary traditions in a way that no traditional network food show ever has. He covers it all – from demonstrating the process of hunting and butchering the food that he’s about to cook, to exploring the day-to-day lives of the farmers and purveyors who provide Canadians with their food.
His respect for traditional cooking techniques shines throughout the show, but he doesn’t allow his work to be confined by them, as evidenced in recipes like his Cheetos Mac and Cheese and Back Alley Ribs.
What has helped establish Matheson as a mainstay in Canada’s culinary landscape is his ability to draw inspiration from a broad range of sources. The technical skills he gained through his formal education and years of experience in the kitchen, combined with his creativity and a profound appreciation of food, makes him one of the most interesting chefs working today.
Appreciate the history and the traditions of your industry, but don’t let them define your work. Blend an understanding and appreciation of your predecessor’s work with your own skills and interests to form a style that is uniquely yours.
Image Credit: The Globe and Mail