46: My New England Kitchen with Chef Matt Jennings
He's a chef, a dad, a cookbook author, and he's married to a pastry chef; so how did Chef Matt Jennings go from working 17 hour days in one of Boston's hottest restaurants to losing 200 pounds and keeping it off? Tune in to the podcast and find out!
On today's show, my interview with Matt explores his incredible journey from fat to fit, his stunning breakout cookbook, Homegrown: Cooking From My New England Roots, Matt's favorite ways to add flavor to nourishing meals, how to create a killer cheese plate, Matt's newest tattoo, and two recipes: a lamb meatball recipe with yogurt sauce that's to die for and a recipe for little gem salad with cheddar vinaigrette and pistachio granola. By the way, Matt's granola is THE BEST homemade granola I've ever made.
What you’ll hear in this episode:
- Matt’s journey: how he started cooking at age 14, attended culinary school in Vermont, worked in restaurants all over the world, and owned and operated and two of his own restaurants.
- Matt’s two sons, ages 9 and 5, who are growing up as “restaurant brats” and just beginning to dabble in the world of cooking.
- How Matt shifted priorities from his 17-hour days at the restaurant and recommitted to living a healthier life. He lost 200 pounds and has kept it off with exercise and a healthy diet.
- Matt’s gastric sleeve surgery and his new-found addiction to the gym.
- Matt’s ideal healthy lunch: greens cooked with olive oil, a protein like grilled chicken or steamed fish, and some cooked grains on the side (barley, quinoa, or wheat berries).
- The key to flavor: sauces and spices (keep them on hand and experiment).
- Matt’s 30 day no-refined-sugar challenge ... all while being married to a pastry chef.
- How Matt and his wife met when she was the baker and catering manager at a restaurant in Cambridge, MA and he was the cheese buyer.
- Matt explains how being a chef in New England defined his life and how it drove him to write Homegrown.
- The influence of Nantucket and seafood on Matt early culinary life.
- Some of Matt’s favorite recipes from Homegrown: his mother’s chowder, his chowder, meatloaf, and lime marinated grilled chicken.
- Matt’s little gem salad with cheddar vinaigrette and pistachio granola.
- The best granola on the plant (from Homegrown), made with old-fashioned oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.
- Matt’s lamb meatballs made with ground lamb, egg, bread crumbs, shallots, salt, cumin, black pepper, and harissa, along with the yogurt sauce of garlic, mint, and dill.
- How Matt encourages his kids to be adventurous eaters.
- What’s next for Matt as a consultant: Growing Full Heart Hospitality, which is a full-service food, beverage, and hospitality consultancy.
- Matt’s rules for the perfect cheese plate: Buy from the right place, store the cheese properly, and serve at room temperature with the right condiments.
- Why Matt’s tattoos are a collection of stories.
We're giving away a copy of Homegrown: Cooking From My New England Roots. (U.S. only, please.) To enter, post a comment at the end of this post telling me why you want to win the book and/or your favorite New England food memory or meal. My favorite memory is trying clam cakes for the very first time at Narraganset Beach in Rhode Island! And if you've gone through your own weight loss journey, please tell us about it. Giveaway ends February 13th, 2019.