The experience of bussing tables in a restaurant was Chef Matt Blondin’s entrance into the culinary world when he was in his teens. He filled in for a cook who was working the salad bar and fell in love with the people in the kitchen and the work ethic. He says, “This was a chain restaurant and I had no experience, but I think it opened my eyes to how fun and different working in a kitchen could be. Shortly after, I enrolled in an apprenticeship program and the rest is history."
Chefs in Canada: Matt Blondin, Omaw, Toronto ON
Chef Matt Blondin combines unique ingredients with Low Country inspiration at Omaw in Toronto.
Chef Matt Blondin
Blondin believes that each chef that he’s worked with has been responsible for some aspect of mentoring him but he mentions the experience of working at Rain restaurant under Chef Guy Rubino as being particularly influential. He was able to see food elevated to a level that he’d never seen or experienced before. Rubino gave him the building blocks that he needed to move forward in his career. After that, he’s gone on to work with talented chefs like Claudio Aprile and David Chang of Momofuku fame amongst others.
Everything that Blondin does in the kitchen starts with a simple motto. He explains, “Our motto is always the same: Challenge yourself and be creative while staying true to what the base really is and that’s making food taste good.”
Working at Omaw has seen Blondin returning to cooking on the line, so he’s readjusting to the process of developing a menu in that setting. He starts with the basic idea of taking dishes off of the menu when he’s tired of them. Even the dishes that Blondin retains as staples get reworked when he wants to add a new flair to them. He adds, “Everyone has input on the dishes, everyone works together and we all work towards the same common goal, no matter what the dish or idea is.”
A dish by Matt Blondin
Another of Matt Blondin's creations.
When it comes to building good relationships with his suppliers, Blondin has a simple criteria and that is to ensure that he pays them on time.
The most important thing for Blondin as a chef is to find his own way of doing things. He wants to remain constantly creative and seek out new and exciting products with which to work. He says, “I guess, like everyone, it’s about finding your own groove and your own cooking style.”
As a chef, Blondin wants to inspire his staff and the people who come and eat at the restaurant through trying new dishes and ingredients. He admits that sometimes the results aren’t quite what he anticipated but he’s always striving to create new experiences.
The most important thing in a cook is the right attitude for Blondin. He isn’t interested in the experience of that person in and of itself.
The sources of inspiration for Blondin are the talented chefs out there as well as the creative restaurant ideas. He says, “There is so much talent in this world, everyone is inspired by one another.”
Another unique dish from Matt Blondin