CHEF Q&A: Jeremy Mattson, Ocean Prime

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Jeremy Mattson is the executive chef at Ocean Prime Orlando, an award-winning modern American restaurant and lounge from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. Mattson has been with Ocean Prime since July 2011 and has been crafting decadent dishes with restaurateur Mitchell since 2003.

What’s your favorite local restaurant other than your own? The food scene in Orlando is constantly changing, which is great because it brings new cuisines and dining experiences to the area. One of my favorite local restaurants is The Ravenous Pig, which is led by James and Julie Petrakis, a husband and wife team who have been serving sustainable food created from ingredients found right here in Florida. A close second would be Kabooki Sushi, a delicious traditional Japanese-style sushi spot led by executive chef and owner Henry Moso, who specializes in combining locally sourced ingredients with the best cuts from Japan.

What’s your go-to meal at home? My busy schedule often keeps me on the run, but I try to cook a home-cooked meal at least once a week. With three kids at home, my wife and I try to keep it simple with meals that are easy but delicious. Our family likes to keep it healthy, so our meals tend to include a lot of quinoa, kale, broccoli or roasted vegetables.

Where do you shop locally for interesting ingredients? One of my go-to places for good-quality produce is Lucky’s Market. Although a national chain, Lucky’s Market does an amazing job supplying locally-sourced produce and a broad selection of organics. Honestly, you can’t really beat the quality ingredients you can find at Publix, too.

Which kitchen gadget could you not live without? I couldn’t live without a Wusthof knife. When I was 17-years-old, my dad bought my first German-made Wusthof knife, and when I turned 21, I decided to buy an entire set. Since then, I have bought many knives, but I always make sure that I have at least one big, heavy steel knife in the restaurant kitchen. At home, I couldn’t live without a blender and a juicer.

What was your favorite bagged lunch as a kid? My parents worked a lot, my dad was an English professor and my mom was a doctor. My four siblings and I used to make our lunches, typically peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As the youngest, I learned to be independent, making sure that I had a bagged lunch every day for school.

What’s your most guilty junk-food? While I typically prefer savory over sweet, I’ve been known to indulge in ice cream. Publix birthday cake ice cream is one of my favorite flavors!

What 3 things are in your fridge at all times? My fridge is always stocked with carrots for juicing, hard-boiled eggs and coconut milk.

Is there anything else about yourself you’d like to share? As a chef, it is always interesting to see if your kids will take after your love for the kitchen. Two of my three kids really enjoy cooking, and during the holidays, my youngest always finds a way to help us prepare the meals for our family. When I was a child, I also spent a lot of time watching my dad cook and learning from his cooking journey that took him around the world, discovering new cuisines and how to make them at home. When he became diabetic and needed to learn how to make foods that would suit his new diet, we learned to cook new dishes together. To this day, I still use his recipes, and now a family tradition, we make his jalapeno jelly during the holidays as gifts for our family and friends.

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