The saying “When you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself” seems like the inspiration that drove Chef Matt Smith of Delta Gamma at Virginia into a career in the culinary arts. He discovered a passion for cooking when he was about twelve years old. Neither of his parents were talented cooks, and he wanted something better to eat. Flash forward to his college years and he’s attending The Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, which was later taken over by Le Cordon Bleu. He described Culinary School as a great time to come across a ton of information that you couldn’t come across in any other way. It was during his time there that he really got involved with the culture of restaurants.
He toured around the country living in several states living an extremely minimalistic lifestyle. For a few years every three to six months he would move to a new location following his then partner who studied seasonal wildlife behavior. “You can’t do that with any other sort of career,” he described of his freedom to roam and maintain a job he was passionate about. He also worked doing his own self sufficient catering service.
Now days in his College Chefs kitchen you may hear classic Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background. But, his choice of music really depends on his current mood, he hasn’t forgotten his “metal head” days in high school. Chef Matt leads a self-described “low-key” lifestyle. He lives on a little house on a private lake outside of Charlottesville with a big yard.
Q: What’s your favorite food to cook/eat?
A: As a category, Thai would be my go to favorite, Asian food in general. I’m a big fan of sushi [as well]. Mostly because I’ve never worked in an Asian restaurant as part of my daily routine so it’s still fresh to me. [...] I did a lot of work as a grill cook coming up through the ranks. I like to do steaks, chops, whatever!
Q: What’s your best food memory?
A: About the time I was thinking about going to culinary school, my brother graduated and I helped with the food at the reception they had. Me and my mom made something very similar and everybody finished mine and barely touched hers.
Q: Do the girls in your house have a favorite food?
A: Anything mexican! Some sort of Mexican night [is a big hit]. Specifically a chicken, beef spread where they can make their own tacos. One food item is fried rice, I have to make two/three times the amount I would usually make for them.
Q: What do you think the next big “thing” in the food world will be?
A: I would really like to see a larger trend of farm to table taken a bit farther; an actual with an actual table. [...] I have an eventual goal of opening a bed and breakfast one day and operate it along that theme.
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