Morimoto Executive Sous Chef Matt Hudack Won't Be Singing Any Iron Chef Duets
As the executive sous chef of Masaharu Morimoto's glitzy, eponymous restaurant Morimoto (88 10th Avenue, 212-989-8883), Matt Hudack builds on the knowledge he's gained throughout his career, never missing an opportunity to learn new things. Here he discusses chef's schedules, the mentors who've shaped his cooking, and why you won't be seeing him challenging Morimoto to any karaoke battles.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, about a five-minute drive from downtown Boston.
Why did you decide to go into the industry?
I got into it because of one restaurant and one guy: Giordano's on Martha's Vineyard and the main man over there, Buster Giordano. I worked for him for five years, through college during the summers. If you want to learn something about work ethic, respect, and having a great time through all the long hours and 120 degree days in the kitchen...he was the reason why. He taught me how to love what you do, to own it, to give a shit about everyone and everything in the restaurant and to be successful at it. By my last year there, I was helping run the joint with his brother and his three sons. It was my last summer after I graduated from college with an economics degree, and I knew I didn't want to work in an office. Buster pulled me aside and asked me why didn't I go to culinary school, because I was built for this life. I thought about it for a couple days, looked into CIA (Culinary Institute of America), and three months later I was gone, up to Hyde Park NY.
What inspires you to cook?
I like to make people happy and I think food can be one of those things that can really turn someone's mood around. Think about the times where you had such an awful day, and you worked so hard and nothing went right, but you stopped at your favorite burger place with a couple of friends and had a beer and crushed a great burger -- it's like, for that moment, everything else in the world kind of goes away. It's like that for me when I get to create or be part of the experience. When someone comes up to me afterwards and says with the most sincere eyes and honest tone that they had the time of their life for that little moment in their day or week, that they felt that escape...I remember the first time I ate at Le Bernarndin. I walked out after the meal and said to my friend that I felt like I just got back from vacation. Also, one other thing is, what kind of office job do you know where you can run around, scream and yell, crack jokes, and swear all day long? It makes you feel young.
What is it like executing someone else's vision?
It's great. It can be tough at times, sure, but that's how you learn. That's how you build a foundation so that one day it's you who is delivering the vision. People get mad and bogged down and tend to make excuses, but instead you need to remember everything you learned so that you don't mess it up someday. There will be a day when you need to know how to set up the best station, or roast the best meat, or build the most beautiful plate, and you'll be happy to have had that experience and education.
What's the end goal?
That's a hard one. I got started a little later than some -- I was 26 when I first came to NYC, so I need a little more time to build myself up before I take that plunge. I think someday it would be amazing to have a few restaurants, and be able to look at the first one and say, "That's where it started," and look at what I built with determination, vision, and hard work.