Weekly Dish: Matt Bolus

This week, we sat down with Matt Bolus of 404 Kitchen . He’s been a business student, a butcher, a fishmonger, and a sous chef, and now as an Executive Chef, Bolus takes a hands on approach to his cuisine. He’s known for insisting upon seeing, smelling and tasting every ingredient that comes through the door.

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What’s the first thing you ever cooked?The first thing I ever cooked by myself was spaghetti. I was at Boy Scout camp and working on the cooking merit badge. I convinced my mom to let me cook it at home one night after camp. That night she made me drain the fat off of the meat, something I hadn’t done when I cooked it before. The two spaghettis didn’t taste the same; I liked the one from camp much more. That was also my first lesson that fat is flavor.

Are there any spices or ingredients that you think are underrated? Cinnamon is overlooked sometimes. The next time you make a marinara or bolognese or are simply sweating some onions for a meat sauce, dash a little cinnamon on the onions and see what happens…gloriousness!

Why did you choose Nashville to work and live in? I chose Nashville because of how much it reminded me of Charleston (where I moved from) just before it became a huge culinary destination. What I like most about the Nashville culinary scene is the farmers. I can’t speak highly enough about them. Their passion, their drive to grow and produce not only better crops or animals but also to produce healthier land. I get all my animal proteins from within 45 minutes of the restaurant and almost 90% of our vegetables are grown within an hour and a half.

What music have you been listening to lately? I have been listening to a lot of bluegrass and Appalachian picking music lately. Seems to have a great vibe to cook to, tells a story just like food.

What chefs have influenced you? Mike Lata had a lot of influence on me in close working capacity and I have to say helped to teach me who I really am as a chef and how I truly want to cook. Thomas Keller influenced me with his words, not only in his books but more importantly on a phone call I had with him that I will never forget what he said and often hear his voice when I am deep in thought about something.