Matthew Ridgway

Matthew Ridgway


Executive Chef of Hotel St. Vincent


Food is memory, and often times vice versa. Every so often, a song or a smell will arise and catapult me back to a specific time. Those intense food memories are extremely important at our restaurant; food, wine, and music are all important to us. Much of what we try to do is in effort to evoke a memory. I try to translate those into an experience for the guest that is relaxed and fun.


EXPERIENCE
EDUCATION
When I went to France to cook for the first time, I saw the beauty of cuisine and food. It totally changed the way I thought about cooking. I already had a lot of respect for the product, but when I saw how their culture respected the ingredient, I was even more inspired.
I look for attitude over skill. I look for grit, heart, and passion when hiring. I can teach skill but I can’t teach heart. I also request from any cook I'm interviewing to make me an omelet.
As a Chef you need to wear many hats and spin many plates. But in order to accomplish all of that, you need a strong foundation in cuisine and experience cooking in restaurants for great chefs.
In yesteryear, it was up to you to keep yourself motivated. Thankfully that has changed. I like to keep my staff motivated by “learning by doing”. With this approach, it teaches you about responsibility and that you need to take ownership and have pride in your work, from prep to the line.
I knew this industry was right for me when I was 19. I stood at the pass in the Fountain Room and it was my first time watching service, and tasting Uni for the first time. The briny taste of the sea was all it took for me to be hooked. Before cooking was cool, it was more of a test to see who was the best and most competitive on the line. That type of competition to be the best was my motivation, and still is today.
I find inspiration in everything I see, museums, old school punk, classical music, and Flea markets.
A few books I recommend any cook to read are: "Becoming a Chef" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, "From Here, You Can't See Paris" by Michael Sanders, "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee, "Mastering Fermentation" by Mary Karlin.

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