Matt Storch – a master chef – a man well loved and liked by Fairfield county residents – a man I greatly admire for his effortless talent and mesmerizing panache in the kitchen!
Every time I meet and chat with Matt, I am struck by the depth of knowledge he has on the subject of cooking. And while Matt does not know this, I secretly hope to someday shadow him in his kitchens at Match 2.0 (South Norwalk) and The Chelsea (Fairfield) hoping to learn from his years of experience. (I speak the truth, Matt! 🙂 )
Until such an opportunity arises, I can’t help but snag any chance to watch Matt cook. Thank God for Clarke Culinary Center in South Norwalk! Matt is a regular there… and so am I! 🙂 The only difference is, he goes there to teach… and I love to learn!
Matt cooks with his heart and wants everyone to do so. So, his classes don’t offer recipes and ingredient measurements. Instead he demonstrates and discusses techniques as well as principles of cooking for a better understanding of what is going on. He wants people to feel confident in their kitchens and experiment with flavors and ingredients. This approach helps me walk out of his classroom feeling empowered to try not only the dishes he demonstrated – but also many others like it.
Last week’s class with Matt was all about braises, stews, roasts and all the good stuff we love to cook in our kitchens as the weathers turns chilly. It was an all out feast of Grilled Octopus, Braised Oxtail Stew, Porterhouse Steak, Roast Chickens (cooked two ways), Lobster Based Bouillabaisse, Fall Veggies (parsnips, squash) and Polenta. Is your mouth watering yet?!
Ever wonder what makes someone a “master” in the kitchen? The answer can be found in watching Matt’s cooking style. It is a glorious blend of simple and complex cooking methods. The roast chicken for instance – needed nothing more than salt, pepper and olive oil to create optimal flavors. But the Bouillabaisse needed tons of flavoring agents to create that delicate yet super-complex and well-balanced broth: think saffron, peppercorns, thyme, jalapeño, garlic, brandy, orange slices, roasted lobster shells, fennel, ….. And while the chicken was simply placed in the oven for an hour or so, the octopus needed some serious TLC to create the optimal texture, flavor and mouthfeel. So Matt started with frozen rather than fresh octopus (he told us that it results in the most tender bite), then he simmers it in wine for over 1 1/2 hours, chills it in the refrigerator for a few hours (this prevents the octopus from becoming too soggy when grilled) and he finally finishes the chilled octopus on the grill and gives it a wondrous char all the while adding another incredible layer of flavor to the mix.
As always, it was an eye opening night. I learned a lot as I made the most of my time in Matt’s classroom and showered him with questions about all my cooking dilemmas and disasters. Designed for an intimate gathering of just 10-12 students at any class, Clarke Culinary Center allows for meaningful discussions about food, ingredients and cooking methods. We ended the night with a family-style feast of all the deliciousness Matt had prepared in front of our very own eyes! I mean, can it get any better than this?
Clarke Culinary Center will be offering a great selection of classes next spring. So be sure to bookmark their website: http://clarkeculinarycenter.com
For information about Matt Storch and his restaurants visit: http://matchsono.com/our-story/