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  • Chef Matt Woolf
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Chef Matt Woolf

Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2018

Favorite class to teach: Steakhouse DIY

Training/education: A.A.S. in Culinary Arts, Triton College, 2008

Cooking since: Professionally since 2000

Favorite childhood food experience: There are so many that helped develop my love of food:

  • Going with my dad to his job at the old Chicago Baking Co. and having maple cookies.
  • Helping my mom make her famous dinner rolls.
  • Picking fresh veggies in my Grandma’s garden out in Nebraska.

What made you want to become a chef? That feeling you get when something you created makes people genuinely happy.

What is your signature dish? Mustard-Soy Glazed Pork Tenderloin

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Pork, onions, mustard, good stocks, and black pepper

What do you love about cooking? Using my own two hands to create something that satisfies the soul.

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? Hunger!

What advice would you give a new cook? Don’t be married to your recipes. Experiment, and change it up. You might be pleasantly surprised!

What are you doing when you're not cooking? That doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends.

Describe your perfect evening. Taking a walk with my fiancé, Andrea. Then dinner at home, followed by a movie and cuddling on the couch.

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Bop N Grill, Gene and Jude’s, Paradise Pup, Lou Malnati’s, Strings, Walker Bros. Pancake House

Where are you from? Chi-Town baby!

What was your favorite vacation? Going to Milwaukee with Andrea the first year we were dating. It was our first vacation, and Milwaukee is a special place for us. We still go up there every Labor Day.

What are your hobbies? Cooking, video games, reading, and watching my Cubbies!

What is your favorite band? That’s a tough one. I’d have to say it’s a three-way tie between Metallica, Beastie Boys, and A Tribe Called Quest.

What is your favorite sports team? The Cubbies!

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Auguste Escoffier. I would be really interested to see what his take would be on how French cuisine ended up influencing practically every other cuisine in the world.

What are your guilty pleasures? I love a good scoop of Ben & Jerry’s. Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey are my favorites. I will also never say no to a Reese’s.

Who is your favorite celebrity chef? I really like Masaharu Morimoto. His skill and knowledge of techniques are truly inspiring.

What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen? A good chef’s knife, a sharpening stone, a wooden cutting board, a large stockpot, and a cast iron skillet.

What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? Anything by America’s Test Kitchen. All of Alton Brown’s books if you are interested in the science of cooking. Of course, The Chopping Block’s website is an excellent source of information for aspiring home cooks.

List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen. 

  • I love to deep fry. If done properly, nothing will hit you in the comfort bone quite like something fried.
  • Make sure to keep your knife sharp. A sharp knife is a safe knife and an easier knife to use.
  • Make sure to keep your wooden cutting boards clean and oiled. Nothing will break your heart quite like when your favorite cutting board cracks due to neglect.
Matt's Favorite Tool

LodgeMy favorite tool in the kitchen is the Lodge Cast Iron skillet. I use mine for numerous different things. I sear in it, I bake in it, and I also use it for home security.

The uses for a cast iron pan are pretty limitless, and if you take care of it, it will most likely outlive you.