“I think we have to enjoy the little things. That’s very important.”
When I was around 15, I moved to Southern France in Biarritz to live alone in an apartment. During the week, I was in school. I had one girlfriend and I remember I asked my grandmother, ‘I have to cook something really good for her.’ And I was a little kid, you know? So I was making a Quiche Lorraine. I would also make like a Pasta Bolognese. She would give me the recipes on the phone.”
Before Matthias Leuliette moved to New York in January 2017, he was fishing with his father in the North Sea, managing Michelin-star restaurants in Belgium, and cooking on Master Chef France, landing in the Top 8.
At the age of 24, Matthias Leuliette worked at various restaurants to pay for his tuition at dental school. One day, his friend abruptly dropped him off at a Master Chef audition after a night of clubbing in Brussels. Slightly hungover, Matthias looked at his friend with confusion and proceeded to the audition lines. Later on, he was accepted for casting on the TV show.
For me it was just a job. I remember one time, we had to make BBQ chicken in one hour. And the day before, all the candidates had one big party so I was totally drunk. I had finished in just twenty minutes, and the judge asked me, ‘Matthias, what did you do?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. I missed the flour!’ It was a BBQ round and I missed the flour. So he sent a reporter to go buy me some. But the reporter fell off a scooter, and I just had 15 minutes to cook. So I prepared a mayonnaise. I had cooked the chicken like a kebab, and the mayonnaise was good with the shrimp and salad. And I ended up winning that round.”
After the show, Chef Matthias looked to accomplish other pursuits like creating a beer and burger bar concept in Belgium and eventually, a fish and chips restaurant in New York called Simply Hooked. This new project aimed to bring people together over a universal dish, and to most importantly create lasting relationships with sustainable suppliers. The restaurant partners with local fisheries in Boston and Maine as well as nonprofit organizations like The Lonely Whale Foundation in order to further sustainability efforts and ocean diversity. Together, Simply Hooked has developed new ways to reduce their plastic footprint by offering biodegradable paper straws and take-out containers.
These days, Matthias spends his time planning meals for the homeless, writing for his upcoming book around sustainable fishing, and baking French cakes for his friends when they are having bad days. Just like his father who taught him how to properly catch mackerel out in the North Sea, Matthias says he has learned how to respect life and all things around him, no matter how little they can be.