You know who we are and what we provide – but who is behind our delicious dishes
Meet Chef Matthew, whose culinary inspirations are delivered to your door by ReBuilt!
The Team: Chef Matthew, what is your official title at ReBuilt?
Chef Matthew: I am the Executive Chef for ReBuilt Meals- I train and manage the team that produces all of our meals, purchase the food we cook, and ensure that we deliver the highest quality product around. I can’t take all the credit though, it’s a huge production that could only happen with many people working together.
T: What’s your background when it comes to food? How did you start out?
M: I started cooking family dinner when I was in high school because both of my parents worked full time jobs. I enjoyed looking up new recipes to create and learning about the science behind cooking. After I got my first job in foodservice, I knew the kitchen was my home. When I moved to Tampa in 2006, I began working in a small restaurant where I was able to begin refining my skills. I continued my education by enrolling in culinary school in 2008.
While I was in school, I started working at a large hotel chain. My first job there was part time at the Sunday brunch, serving made-to-order pasta. When the next full time position opened up in the bake shop, I jumped at the opportunity, despite having almost no working knowledge of baking. I taught myself everything I needed to know and eventually took over that department. I ran the bake shop in the hotel for a couple of years before transferring to one of the restaurants on the property, where I was responsible for a 24-hour kitchen. Throughout my time there, I met world-class chefs, I was featured in a newspaper restaurant review, and at one point, baked a cake for a princess.
After several years working at the hotel, it was time for a change. I began looking into other jobs in the industry with little luck. It was around that time that I met with a good friend of mine who told me about the meal prep business. I interviewed with this company and started the next day. Once again, I learned about the business and moved up within the company, eventually taking the role of Executive Chef. It was an exhilarating experience, to say the least.
All in all, I have a very diverse culinary background. I have served exclusive small table dinners, weddings and conferences for over 700 people, fast food, desserts
T: What is your favorite food?
M: Well, if I had to pick just one, I would have to say smoked BBQ beef brisket. Runners up include: American-Chinese food, asparagus cooked on a wood fired grill, fried brussels sprouts, and German food. Oh, and eggs- or any ‘breakfast’ food.
T: What is your favorite memory of food?
M: The first time I made cheesecake from scratch using a recipe I developed. It’s a technical process that can be extremely difficult, I had to make several failed batches before getting it to the point where it was jaw-droppingly amazing. (It was mango-lime cheesecake with shortbread crust, if you were wondering)
T: How did you join the ReBuilt team?
M: I met Chandler (the Head Honcho) through a work event about a year before I started with the company. I had a lot of respect for his values and ideals, so we kept in touch over social media. At the end of 2017, I decided to take a short sabbatical to spend time with my family. When I started looking for work again, I met with Chandler for coffee. Throughout our conversation, we had discussed some of the issues ReBuilt was facing while they scaled up the business. Eventually, I offered to come in as an outside consultant to help the team. Before long, I knew ReBuilt was the place I wanted to be, and the rest is history
T: Where do you get your ideas for ReBuilt recipes?
M: When I develop the menus, there are many factors that I consider. Most importantly, I keep the recipes and options as varied as possible. Sometimes I have an idea that sounds good, other times I pick a regional dish and use that as inspiration.
Basically, there are five criteria that I use when developing a dish: Regionality, Color, Texture, Flavor, and Repetitiveness. If the dish was associated with a specific area or region, it would influence the spices or sides used. Color and texture go hand in hand and are vital to the appearance of the dish. If a plate has vibrant colors on it, the food will look more appetizing. Flavor in this context usually refers to heat, saltiness, and acidity. “Variety is the spice of life” isn’t just an axiom. One of my major goals is to ensure that our clients don’t get bored of seeing the same food over and over again. Keeping the food exciting helps ensure that our clients look forward to each meal
T: What kind of cooking is your favorite? (Grilling, baking, roasting, etc) And why?
M: I can appreciate different styles of cooking for different reasons, but my favorites are smoking, grilling, and baking. The most interesting cooking combines technical skill with art and improvisation.
T: Are you the cook at home too?
M: After the third time the smoke alarm went off, we made the executive decision to keep the kitchen off limits to the rest of the household.
T: What kind of meals do you have for the holidays at home?
Sure, we have the usual spread of roasted turkey, green beans, all that. But, there are a couple of family recipes that everyone looks forward to when we get together. My favorite growing up is what my grandmother called green salad. It’s important to note here that this is a bound salad, more of a dessert. The best way to describe it is fruits and nuts in a jell-o mold — trust me, it’s much better than it sounds
T: What do you offer customers of ReBuilt?
M: Great food, excellent service, and convenience. We offer meals that taste home-cooked without the hassle of having to prepare and portion it.
T: What is your passion?
M: Cooking, learning, and finding unique solutions to problems. I also enjoy woodworking, and recently started turning with a lathe, but haven’t had as much time for that lately.
T: How do you make the perfect hard-boiled egg?
M: You don’t – you get your breakfast from ReBuilt!