How Does Matty Matheson Really Feel About Italian Beef?
The chef-turned-actor also offers his thoughts on hot dogs, chicken wings and the sexiest condiment
Even though they are staples of the Chicago food scene, there are a couple of Windy City specials that are having a moment in New York City right now — and thank the spirit of Harry Caray that deep-dish pizza isn’t involved.
Demand for Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches is on the rise in NYC and it appears the driving force behind the bullish meat market is FX’s The Bear. Already filming its second season, the series is about a struggling Chicago sandwich shop and its brooding head chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White). “It’s been a godsend,” Jarret Kerr, an owner of Chicago Italian beef and hot dog restaurant Dog Day Afternoon in Brooklyn, told The New York Times. “Now every day we say, well, thank you to The Bear, thank you to The Bear.”
A portion of Kerr’s thanks should be directed to Matty Matheson, a tatted-up Canadian chef and food personality who portrays handyman Neil Fak on The Bear and also serves as a culinary consultant for the Chicago food on the show. Fresh off shooting an ad campaign for DoorDash alongside Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon the Chef that launched on Super Bowl Sunday, the 41-year-old proclaimed his allegiance to Chicago dogs and beefs over the street food of his hometown during a conversation with InsideHook.
“I’ll tell you one thing: I fuck with the Chicago hot dogs way more than Toronto street meat. I’ve been coming to Chicago for a long time. I think it’s one of those great American cities, and the Italian beefs are kind of legendary,” Matheson says. “Every time I go to Philly, I get a Philly cheesesteak. Every time I’m in LA, I gotta go to Apple Pan and get a cheeseburger. I’m a sucker for that. If I come to Chicago, I would rather get a beef than a deep-dish pizza. I’d rather get a hot dog than a deep-dish too, that’s for sure. It’s like a birthday cake, you know?”
We do, Mr. Matheson, we do. Here’s the rest of our culinary-themed conversation with the chef-turned-actor.
InsideHook: Was there a chef-to-chef connection with Raekwon while shooting for DoorDash?
Matty Matheson: I was a Wu-Tang fan in all factions and I met Rae a couple of years ago when I had MattyFest in Toronto and Wu-Tang headlined. I didn’t really expect him to remember me, but when we met on set he was like, “What’s up, Matty? — how’s Toronto?” He was very kind and we just hit it off. We were just hanging out talking about life and books and cooking and food. It was very chill. The guys in Wu-Tang like Raekwon are literally actual legends, but he’s very humble and we were even texting after the Super Bowl. It was sick.
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IH: What did you do for the game?
MM: We’re shooting season two now, so I watched it with Lionel [Boyce] and Ayo [Edebiri] from the show. We ordered in a couple of pizzas and some wings from Hooters because we thought it was funny. The barbecue wings were my favorites out of all of them. The hot Buffalo wings were whatever. They weren’t that hot. I grew up next to Buffalo, so I want my wings a very specific way. At Hooters they’re breaded, so it’s almost like eating little fried chickens. Buffalo wings are crispier, and I like the vinegar-based sauces they use. It’s just simple and it’s good.
IH: Do you have a lot of sauces in your refrigerator?
MM: I have Tabasco and Crystal Hot Sauce. They’re kind of the same, but I love those. You need your sauces. What’s your good chili oil? What’s your mayonnaise? What are your condiments? I use a lot of barbecue sauce and there is always a jar of pickles in my fridge. Definitely dill pickles and green olives.
IH: What do you think is the sexiest condiment?
MM: I think it’s pretty easy. Olive oil. Why is that? I don’t think we can really talk about it here. It’s good for lettuce. You can cook with it. You can make salad dressing. You can fry stuff in it. You can drizzle it on chocolate or on fruit. I feel olive oil is the sexiest condiment in the world.
IH: Ketchup on a hot dog, yay or nay?
MM: I used to be a ketchup guy, but now I’m not. I’m just mustard, if I do anything. My truly favorite dog is from Gene and Jude’s and I get onion, mustard and sport peppers. That’s it. Chicago’s given us so much and I feel the need to reciprocate that. I used to eat ketchup on hot dogs, but you literally can’t ask for it in Chicago. I’ve been eating hot dogs my whole life. No matter what’s happening, there’s always space for slamming a dog. You just need what you need. You need the onion, you need sport peppers and you need the mustard. That’s it.
MM: Nah. Fuck no.
IH: You’ve got your own clothing line now. Any basic style advice?
MM: Wear what fits you. Don’t worry about the sizes. If it fits, wear it. If it looks good and you feel good, wear it.
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