brandon and matt fortner.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Prepping for service at How to Cook A Wolf.
How To Cook A Wolf chef de cuisine Matt Fortner and his


Chef Matt Fortner Is So Hot, Shares Grilling Tips

brandon and matt fortner.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Prepping for service at How to Cook A Wolf.
How To Cook A Wolf chef de cuisine Matt Fortner and his wife spent nearly a year traveling around South America, returning home all fired up about grilling the way they do in Argentina. He offers suggestions for building the best fire in part two of this week's Grillaxin. Read part one to learn more about his four-star resume.

SW: Going way back, do you remember the very first dish you ever cooked?

Matt: Making cakes with my mom. When I went to culinary school, I thought I would be a pastry chef, but soon found the regimented style of a pastry chef doesn't fit my personality, so I married one. (Stacy Fortner is the pastry chef for Tom Douglas restaurants.) I remember reading my mom's cookbooks, seeing ingredients I didn't know. It was exciting.

SW: And did things always turn out?

Matt: Yeah. With my Mom's help. And then when I got into high school, I started making more complicated recipes like gumbo.

SW: What do you like to cook at home?

Matt: After being in Argentina, we love to grill everything. I like to use Don and Joe's at Pike Place Market. We do a lot of shopping at the Market. It's a major part of our city, of our culture. I think a lot of people take for granted having a place to buy things that's not a grocery store. I like going down there early. I developed relationships down there and I like supporting them.

SW: What's your favorite thing to grill?

Matt: Oh, the ribeye, no doubt. Or a whole fish.

SW: Do you use charcoal?

Matt: I use wood. Just wood. It burns down and you get a nice coal.

SW: Where do you get the wood?

Matt: We go camping a lot. We love the North Cascades. If I'm not working, I'm out in the woods. Last year, we probably camped 60 days. I've even thought about doing a little backpackers cookbook.

SW: So, how do you get a good fire going? Do you have a big grill?

Matt: No, I just have a little Weber.

SW: I think people know how to cook on charcoal, but what's the trick for using wood?

Matt: The best way is to have a fire you keep feeding in a separate grill. You take the coals from your mother fire, you shovel those in as you need more heat. If you want to get a good sear, you might need a stronger fire set farther down from the flames. It's the fat dripping up that causes the flare-ups. I did a 15-pound rib-eye roast over a campfire for Stacy's birthday one year. That was really good. It's such a simple method of cooking, people sometimes put too much thought into it. Like thinking they've got to get a certain type of wood. It's just like, get a fire and it's going to be good. You've got to use your grill a lot. It's like using a cast-iron skillet. If you just use it once a year, the pan's not going to be that great.

Check back for part three of this week's Grillaxin for Matt Fortner's recipe, something you can throw on the fire.

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