Sunday, March 08, 2009

Exclusive Hell's Kitchen Interview: Chef Matt Sigel.

Here is a treat for all you Hell’s Kitchen fans! We recently had the opportunity to speak with Chef Matt Sigel of season four. While Chef Matt may have not won the prize of the executive chef position at London West, he did provide fans with a whole lot of entertainment.

The Last Bite wanted to know more about Chef Matt, what got him interested in cooking, and where his passion for the culinary arts comes from. Of course we threw in a few questions about Hell’s Kitchen and Chef Gordon Ramsey:

TLB: At what age did you know you were going to be a chef and why?

Chef Matt: I did not go to culinary school until Feb 2000 at Institute of Culinary Education (formerly known as Peter Kumps) I always loved cooking and was offered the opportunity to go to CIA. I turned it down to go work on Wall Street. I starting meeting celebrity chefs in my late 20’s and realized there is no shame of being a chef.

TLB: Where did you attend your training and did you find it easy or difficult?

Chef Matt: I attended ICE. I found it to be ok. I really did not like the majority of my classmates. So it made it difficult. Most of them went out after class while I went to work after class and worked till 1am and had to be in school by 8. They felt bad for each other being tired.

TLB: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Chef Matt: I would have gone at 18 and traveled to Europe.

TLB: What is best advice you would give a home cook that wants to go pro?

Chef Matt: You better learn to eat crow and be passionate. Having an ego will kill you. Always need to learn you can even learn from a dishwasher. Be patient not many make it in this business and don’t name drop.

TLB: If you had only one tip for the home cooking enthusiast what would that be?

Chef Matt: Know your ingredient and appreciate where it comes from and how it gets to your marketplace.

TLB: If you could only have your knives and one gadget, what would that be and why?

Chef Matt: My hand blender. I use that baby for a lot of things. Everyone should own one.

TLB: What is your favorite ingredient, and your favorite way to utilize that ingredient?

Chef Matt: LMAO! Asking a chef what his favorite ingredient is. I do love lobster. Nothing like fresh lobster off the coast of Maine waters. I had this experience in Bar Harbor Maine. I think people are so used to eating it baked or broiled. I have fun with lobster doing ceviche pairing it up with foie gras. Shocking people tempured style with a vanilla bean sauce.

TLB: What is your least favorite ingredient and why?

Chef Matt: I’d say tripe. Look I hate the stuff but I always try it. As a chef or a so called foodie you should taste everything out there. I hate beets. But I love them roasted. I would never ever known that if I just stuck with "I hate that."

TLB: Describe your funniest kitchen incident.

Chef Matt: There is so much funny stuff that goes on in a kitchen. It is high stress so the littlest things are funny. I think hells kitchen when I did you want to see crazy routine. People thought I was going nuts it was me being silly.

TLB: At home who does most of the cooking, and what do you like to eat?

Chef Matt: My wife does not cook. We go out a lot. She’s in retail we don’t have normal hours. But I am simple. We go out to eat a lot so its basic stuff. When we go out to dine which is occasionally we go to the popular places. I love Popeye’s fried chicken, white castle and pig out at taco bell. I do hate McD’s. Im just as human as the next person.

TLB: What is your favorite cookbook?

Chef Matt: I own a lot of cookbooks. But I do love Daniel Boulud’s Letters to a Young Chef. I know it’s not a cookbook. If you’re looking for food artistry Jean-George and Alfred Portale are two of my faves.

TLB: Hell’s Kitchen; what is your favorite story from your season?

Chef Matt: Chef Ramsey saying that was the best risotto to leave hells kitchen he only said that to me. I was the first one he said it to and everyone else he says it’s good.

TLB: Describe how you felt about Chef Ramsey during your time on the show. Do you feel the same way now?

Chef Matt: I love Chef Ramsey. He is a great chef. He reinvented me. Also people forget about Chef Scott and Chef Gloria on the show. Look Chefs yell; Ramsey wants passion and wants people to succeed.

TLB: Do you feel that you learned anything from the show that influenced your cooking?

Chef Matt: Yeah keep it simple. You can use flavors but keep it simple.

TLB: Would you participate in other cooking related productions?

Chef Matt: Yeah my own. Anyone want to produce a show?

TLB: What is Chef Matt’s dream job situation?

Chef Matt: I have a concept and concepts for restaurants that will put casual dinning over the edge. I need deep wallets to back me.

TLB: What do you want our reader to know about Chef Matt Sigel?

Chef Matt: I’m fun loving. I care about the customer. Personally besides cooking I love to read. Love politics. Have over 600 DVDs. And collect chef things (figurines, decorative stuff, have the Swedish Chef play set)

The Last Bite thanks Chef Matt for taking the time to answer our questions. If you would like to contact Chef Matt in regards to media, employment, or similar opportunities, contact The Last Bite or leave a comment here.


Passionate About Baking said...

What an interesting read & a great chef!! I loved the post!!

Jescel said...

I saw him when he was on the show.. he did look like he was going nuts and sulked like a child before he got booted out.. lol.. thanks for this interview. great job.

Faisal said...

Good interview. I liked the part where he says you can learn even from a dishwasher. Thanks for posting this.

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