Hi, I am Chef Zara. In this post, I will guide you through Matty Mattheson’s Cookbook.
I love discovering new food and cooking with friends and family. One of the most common questions that I often get is for cookbook recommendations. I have created this guide for friends, family, and new friends alike. I hope that you enjoy our site.
A Very Personal Cookbook
If you’re new to Matty Matheson, he is a lot to take in. Although his grandfather was a chef, Matheson was never interested in becoming one himself; he only wanted to get out of his small town of St. John, Canada, and make his way to the big city of Toronto. He figured the best way to do this was to get a job as a cook; the rest is history. Once he began working in restaurants, he fell in love and decided on culinary school, but with Matty being Matty, he dropped out after three weeks in favor of going on the road with his friend’s punk bank as, of all things, a roadie.
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Matty Mattheson: A Cookbook. Part I: Family 16, 60, 82, 112
Prince Edward Island Seafood and Steaks p.42
The photo of this dish is enough to convert even the most diehard vegan into a consummate carnivore! The number of items makes this an all-day gig requiring help from the entire family. Matty speaks enthusiastically about how preparing meals together can lead to precious, lifelong memories.
What also made this a very special experience for Matty was that everything was sourced fresh, which meant an early morning clam dig, visits to both local fishermen for their earliest catch and farmers for newly butchered meat, and gathering the vegetables right out of his grandfather’s garden.
Rabbit Stew p.72
When we think of the basic stew, we’re thinking of beef or chicken, but Matty being Matty, comes out of the left field with rabbit, yes, rabbit. But as with everything Matty, there is a story behind it. His grandmother, affectionately known as “Nanny,” preferred rabbit because it was readily available where she lived as a child. Her Uncle Harvey would toss her a penny for every rabbit she skinned. Rabbits were also used to barter for other goods, making them valuable commodities in more ways than one.
“The food is the foundation of the conversation. It will create a shared experience that will last.”– Matty Matheson
Blackberry Coffee Cake p.79
Matty purposely did not include many deserts in this book because baking is not really his thing. Still, he felt compelled to have this recipe for Blackberry Coffee Cake as it is yet another reminder of his childhood. He and his siblings would go over to their grandparent’s house, chasing each other in the expansive backyard with wooden toy guns, using a particular blackberry tree for cover. Looking back on it now, they weren’t aware of what an excellent culinary gift they had right under their noses.
Rappie Pie: A Matheson Family Tradition p.92
Matty believes that Rappie Pie fails to get the respect it deserves because it’s not the “prettiest” dish out there. When looking at the ingredient list, nothing jumps off the page as obscure or outlandish. There is not a wide variety of rich spices. The foundation is made up of chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery, but that’s perfectly fine with Matty because, for him and his family, this dish represents a “Christmas culinary tradition.”
Ronco Rotisserie Prime Rib p.106
If we are to include a recipe that takes a small army to prepare in the Prince Edward Island Seafood and Steaks, we also have to include something on the opposite end of the spectrum. The photo of this dish looks so scrumptious and delicately good. Add to this the fact that there are only four ingredients to worry about, and you would be simply out of your mind NOT to make it!
Dr. William Spencer’s Dried Pepper Flakes p.129
When I need some pepper flakes, I just reach into my cabinet and grab up a bottle of McCormick’s, so when I saw an actual recipe for them in Matty’s cookbook, I had to include it because…who makes their pepper flakes, suitable? The answer is Dr. William Spencer, Matty’s father-in-law, who, as a dentist, has kept busy over the years replacing many of Matty’s broken teeth after yet another rowdy night out. Matty speaks of the times he watched his father-in-law snack on a chili pepper with every meal and how he just thought that was so “sick.” He also details the first time Dr. Spencer asked him to help make these pepper flakes in the basement and how the pepper dust cleared out everyone in the house above. In a show of love and respect for the good Dr. Spencer, Matty included this recipe.
Part II: Cooking School and Restaurants 142, 148, 186, 206, 210, 236
French Onion Soup p.154
“A proper French Onion Soup should make every bad thing in your life disappear instantly. It’s a dish that will hold you tight and tell you everything will be okay when the world is burning itself to death.” Matty Matheson
Besides seeing what an excellent food writer he is, Just reading the ingredient list of this tasty soup, seventeen in all, will instantly inspire you to rush to your local farmer’s market to get this thing going ASAP! There are five different onions, three types of wine, shallots, sourdough bread, and Emmental cheese. How can one go wrong?
According to Matty, this is not just fish soup, it is fish soup. This dish is a testament to the beloved chefs of Marseilles, France, who were able to take the fish that the fishermen couldn’t sell and turn them into a masterpiece of complex flavors. With an ingredients list that’s 47 long, combined with a three-hour prep time, this is yet another expansive recipe that will feel almost overwhelming for the novice cook and even a bit intimidating for the well-rounded chef.
If you’re unfamiliar with the cut known as Bavette, you might recognize it as flank, flap, skirt, hanger, or from other recognizable food personalities. Get the Canola oil in your cast-iron smoking slightly, lay in your 7-ounce bavette (seasoned with salt and pepper, of course), and brown on both sides over medium/high heat before reducing the heat to low, where you’ll flip it a couple of more times before removal. Put together your sauce with shallots, peppercorns, Brandi, and demi-glaze, and you’re good to go!
Venison Rack with Chocolate Demi-Glace p.178
The story behind this recipe is classic Matty. Working at Le Select, a celebrity actor Matty was a big fan of, came in and ordered this dish. Matheson was so worked up about preparing the Venison he couldn’t see straight. He went through all of the steps to create, as he calls it, “the most perfect rack that has ever been cooked,’ and he “cradled it in his arms like a newborn baby panda.” To his shock, the server came back and said the celebrity complained that it was “overcooked,” so Matty, without care, prepared another rack, and the guy loved it.
“I know how to make soup, you fucking idiot. I just spent the last three years of my life working at one of the best French restaurants in Canada,I appear alongside restaurant recipes you hippie fucking loser.”– Matty Matheson
Elk Loin, Carrots, and Celeriac with Pickled Blueberries p.244
I just love the idea of the pickled blueberries to go with this dish for both the diversity and the sweetness that it brings. The dish itself is not incredibly complex and doesn’t need to be. The magical mix of the savory taste of the elk loin is offset by the maple syrup in both the celeriac puree and the carrots and the sweetness of the pickled blueberries. Matty warns us to take care when preparing such lean meat as elk. Simply sear the loin on each side for one minute and then place it in a 350-degree oven just long enough to heat through.
The Super Festival Country Doughnut (Not a Beaver Tail) p.282
Only in the world of Matty Matheson could a basic, deep-fried dough cause the threat of legal retribution, but that’s precisely what happened. Matty tells the story that, even though he “hates making deserts,” he did do for these amazing recipes practical on the menu at Parts & Labour; a flattened out, oblong-looking thing that resembled a beaver tail, so he aptly named it the “Beaver Tail.” Little did he realize that “Beaver Tail” was a trademarked name, so before he knew it, P & L were receiving cease and desist letters from lawyers. They were forced to change the name to the much less legally offensive Super Festival Country Doughnut.
The P&L Burger p.285
I immediately got excited when I saw The P&L Burger in this cookbook because it would be something special. After all, Matty is famous for his “legendary” cheeseburgers. I was filled with anticipation to make a Matty Matheson cheeseburger until I read the following, “I am known for cheeseburgers, and I hate it.” Needless to say, my enthusiasm quickly disappeared.
As it turns out, Matty would rather be known for anything but his cheeseburger. He was already running the high-end restaurant, Parts & Labour when he was recruited for his first television show in Toronto called “Burger Wars,” a burger competition that he went on to win. The notoriety of his appearance created a stir in the burger world, and people were driving hours just to come to P&L for Matty’s famous cheeseburger. P&L quickly went from a high-end restaurant with French roots to becoming a high-end burger joint, and neither Matty nor his investors were pleased. They even went as far as to jack up the price of the burger just to steer people away and onto other menu items.
In his introduction, Matty states that this book will not be about “farms, gardens, sustainable seafood, thanksgiving stuffing butternut squash or how much cocaine I did before and after service every night,” which is true. Still, it goes without saying that all of these things have had a significant influence on both his personal and culinary life and that every man should try these recipes.
What is most impressive about this book is its diversity between Matty’s barebones childhood fare and his incredibly complex French dishes with delicious recipes that always entice seasoned cooks. Some may view an incongruence here, but Matty sees them as equals. Whether it is the basic recipe for Rappie Pie or the conglomerate of ingredients that goes into French Bouillabaisse, everything is prepared with a love for the art of cooking and a passion for perfection.
Matty Matheson is a complex man who is deeply driven to create incredible cuisine according to the highest of standards, and that comes through in Matty Matheson: A Cookbook.
More about Matty Mattherson
If you’ve ever listened to Mr. Matteson, he speaks a mile a minute with the boundless energy of a preteen after a six-pack of sugary drinks. Matty grew up in the Mormon Church, where he was only allowed to watch “G” rated movies, and he wouldn’t dare be caught drinking a Coca-Cola, but by the time he was in his late teens, he had become a regular consumer of both alcohol and drugs. He is also covered, head to toe, in tattoos. If you were to run into him in a dark alley, you might believe you were about to be mugged. With that said, Matty is the perfect example that we should not judge a book by its cover.
Matty suffered a heart attack at the age of 29, and his drug addictions and outlandish behavior almost resulted in his ouster from the same restaurants he ran. It wasn’t until his restaurant investors staged an intervention that Matty recognized he was spiraling out of control; he then thought it best to clean up his act. Matty’s is a story of redemption and rebirth and of course about a great author. He has remained clean and sober for many years now and has risen to a place high atop the culinary world.