Meet Matthew Wiesblatt
“My family has had delicatessens in Toronto since the late 30’s. I watched cooking shows instead of cartoons when I was a little kid. It’s in me. I just love food. It’s almost strange for me to put it into words.”
You’re sitting down to eat at your favourite restaurant, mouth watering as a steaming plate of delight is placed before you. As you tuck in, the chefs in the kitchen wipe their brow and eat a slice of satisfaction pie.
Matthew Wiesblatt, 28-year old head chef of the Rosedale Diner in Toronto, spills the beans on what it’s like to be in the most important part of any restaurant: the kitchen.
“It’s hot and sweaty but it’s exciting. You get tunnel vision in a sense. You really have to sort of just know exactly what needs to be done.”
Not everyone is cut out for it. Matt finds himself on his feet for 12 hours at a time. “The kitchen doesn’t take any prisoners. If you can’t cut it, you know right away. It comes with physical and mental challenges. You have to stay focused and the hours are grueling.”
Matt grew up surrounded by food. “My family has had delicatessens in Toronto since the late 30’s. I watched cooking shows instead of cartoons when I was a little kid. It’s in me. I just love food. It’s almost strange for me to put it into words.”
“When I cook I’m contributing to my family’s history as Jews in the city. My grandfather had delis in the city, my dad was the original owner of the Pickle Barrel… I view my cooking as part of my family’s legacy, which is innately tied into our Judaism.”
Matt understands the essential role that food plays in Jewish life. “Jews like to get together and eat, so there’s something innately familial that is there. That’s very much the vibe at my restaurant. We like to make people feel a part of the community when they come in.”
Cooking for others is a big part of what drives Matt’s work. “I’m providing a service for someone. Every dish has to be just as good as the last if not better.”
Being a chef requires creativity, a major aspect of cooking that Matt enjoys. “Like sculptors or painters, you’re essentially taking one thing and making it into another, using ingredients to create with tangible results. I create something and it gets put in front of someone and I can see their instant reaction.”
Matt is dedicated to his craft and looks forward to going to work every day. “I know what I’ve gotten myself into. The motivation is there from the outset, that I want to just keep being good at what I do.”
Feast your eyes and taste Matt’s passion for yourself at @therosedalediner.
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Jumans of Toronto is a window into the lives and passion of Jewish young adults making their mark in the world. A 50-part series, Jumans is inspired by Humans of New York. If you’d like to recommend someone awesome to be highlighted, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Adina Samuels