Matt Lewis (left) and his sous chef Cody Tremblay met while working at Petit Toulouse.
New Orleans is roughly 2,700 miles from Seattle, but Matthew Lewis and his crew bring the big, bold flavors of that great city a little closer with a lineup of Cajun and Creole classics with his food truck, Where Ya At Matt. Matt doesn't like to talk trash about anybody else's cooking, but he has yet to taste a gumbo in this part of the world that's worth a damn. (A thin, watery gumbo is not a gumbo!) In part two of this week's Grillaxin, he talks about digging into the family's secret recipe book for the gumbo he serves at Where Ya At. Read part one to learn more. To catch up on Matt's current location, check out his Web site.
SW: What's the biggest seller so far?
Matt: The gumbo. Which surprised me. I thought that would be more of a fall thing.
Can you tell people who don't know that gumbo is more of a stew than a soup?
Yeah, if you don't make it with a roux, it's not gumbo. It's also got to have okra. I know there are versions that don't, but mine has okra and a whole lot of love.
SW: Speaking of love, your food does taste like it's made with that special ingredient. Are these family recipes?
Yes, the gumbo is my Aunt Rose's. I spent a lot of time watching her make it, picking up all sorts of tricks of the trade.
Was her recipe a secret?
Matt: Yeah, that's kind of a big deal when somebody passes along a family recipe. Everybody will talk about it and then the person who gets it won't share. One thing I have learned is that okra is not as slimy if you cut it with a sharp knife.
Do you have a favorite knife?
I love my Japanese knife. It's even got a fleur-de-lis on the handle. And I still have the first knife I ever used, an 7-inch Wusthof knife.
What's the best part of this new venture?
Matt: I love the hospitality part of the business, talking to customers. I think people really respond to ingredients they know that are prepared really well. Fancy food is great, but there's nothing like down-home cooking. So far, we've had nothing but great feedback.
Check back for part three of this week's Grillaxin for a recipe from Matt Lewis.