The award-winning chef, one of the culinary kings of the First Coast, did seasonal and local cooking before it was hip. Matthew’s, Restaurant Medure and several M Shacks bring epicurean goodness to the people.
Diners seem to be more curious where their food comes from. What Florida-grown foods excite you?
Our guests want to know which farm something came from, and they can go to the market and buy that same product. We have an Ocala farmer whom we’ve used for 24 years: Charles Andrews of Hammock Hollow. He grows crazy cucumbers, beautiful eggplants and zucchini— whatever is in season. We also use Twinn Bridges Farm here in Jacksonville for the kale at M Shack.
What made you want to open a burger place (M Shack) after your success with Matthew’s and Restaurant Medure?
I wanted a great, affordable burger, one that you wanted to eat over and over again. There are great burgers out there but you may want one a year because it’s so rich. The secret is in the meat blend; it was a huge undertaking as it took us three months to get it right. We figured out how to make it taste like a chopped steak, with just the right amount of fat. We now have an M Shack food trailer across from Matthew’s and are getting ready to open our Five Points location.
You’re also known for your cocktails. What are your favorites?
At Restaurant Medure, the bar has more of a wild vibe and the cocktails there are crafty and on-edge. The Sloe Fizz is based off the old sloe gin. We whip in egg whites and the fizziness lasts the entire drink. At Matthew’s it’s a more classic vibe; you can’t go wrong with a Manhattan; there are so many great bourbons out there now.