We caught up with Southernmost Beach Cafe’s Executive Chef Matthew Slattery to learn more about his background, inspirations, culinary creations and island life in Key West.
Matthew Slattery grew up in Concord, New Hampshire. His interest and passion for cooking started at a young age where he recalls cooking in the kitchen with his dad and experimenting with new ingredients. The experimenting and culinary twisting of ingredients has followed him throughout his career.
Chef on Tour: Chef Matthew has also worked as a personal chef on the road for many music-touring artists including NSYNC, Godsmack, Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw.
He is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales University.
Awards & Honors:
2008 Taste Of Huntsville Winner
2010 Silver Spoon Award
2011 Quick Fire Challenge Winner
2011 Chopped Orlando Winner
2016 Top Toque Key West Winner
2016 Hunger Games Top Chef Winner
Q&A with Southernmost Beach Cafe’s Executive Chef, Matthew Slattery
Q. How would you describe your culinary style?
A. American / Caribbean comfort food twisted
Q. Who would you say is your culinary hero or mentor?
A. Chef Chris from the Dolce group in LA. He taught me a lot of creative approaches to food, ways to infuse and be different with flavors. Although I do love me some Anthony Bourdain!
Q. How long have you been in Key West and the Florida Keys?
A. I’ve been in Key West for three years, and three years prior I was in Islamorada.
Q. How long have you been at Southernmost Beach Cafe?
A. Three years
Q. What is your favorite dish to make here at Southernmost Beach Cafe?
A. I love making the duck fried rice, it’s the Asian fusion side of me, plus with the ginger hoisin glaze we make in house, with the fresh seasonal veggies, and a fried egg on top!
Q. Tell us about the Asian Fusion side of you.
A. It’s the Umami Factor (known in Asian Cuisine) Umami is and has become a known receptor on the tongue. The fifth flavor after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.I love to play with the balance of Asian Umami with American comfort food. Creating balancing flavors, with the bold side of American food.
Q. Do you have a favorite ingredient?
A. It’s not one favorite but a culinary idea of twisting ingredients. I like to experiment and incorporate different types ingredients you may not think will work together and make them flow together. For example, Elvis Bread Pudding ~ peanut butter, banana and bacon in the bread pudding topped with a caramel anglaise. Or the miso glazed mussels.
Q. Do you have a favorite dish on the Southernmost Beach Cafe menu?
A. I love any of our fresh catch preparations; we use local fisheries, and showcase 3 different types of fresh fish daily, along with all the different preparations, like curry, macadamia crusted or many other preparations!
Q. How important is it for you to work with local ingredients?
A. Utilizing local ingredients, not only supports our local business, but the local work force as well. We always use fresh local seasonal fish as well as to participate in Safe Harbor, using line caught fish. For example, in March you can expect to see Yellowtail, Hogfish and Tilefish on the menu. We also incorporate local fruits and vegetables like Mangoes, pineapple and coconut into our dishes.
Q. Do you have a favorite Key West restaurant?
Q. What’s your favorite way to enjoy Key West on your day off?
A. Sun, Sand, and Water. Love being out in the ocean, especially under the water snorkeling. Although flying around on a jet ski through the islands it pretty fun too!
Q. Do you have any cooking tips you’d like to share?
A. Brine your chicken or pork before cooking. You can infuse a lot of flavor before cooking as well as retain the juiciness as well. Or just add bacon to everything!
Q. Can you share one of your favorite recipes with us from Southernmost Beach Cafe?
A. One of the most popular items at the restaurants is Drunken Scallops
Southernmost Beach Cafe’s Drunken Scallops: Photo by @ta2dgurlnj on Instagram
Serves 2-3 guests
8 to 10 dry packed U-10 scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
Duck fat for sautéing
3 tablespoons diced bacon, use a good Applewood smoked bacon, Nueski’s is a favorite of mine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sliced shallots
2 cup of your favorite beer! Sam Adams Seasonal beers are fun throughout the year
1-cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon roasted garlic pepper seasoning
½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
Preparation: Season scallops with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, place enough duck fat to coat bottom of pan, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Heat fat until it just begins to smoke. Place scallops into the sauté pan gently. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the underside of the scallop is nicely caramelized. Turn scallops over. Add bacon, chopped garlic, and sliced shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until bacon, shallots and garlic are caramelized. Deglaze pan with your favorite beer. Continue cooking until beer is reduced by half. Add heavy cream and continue cooking until cream is reduced by half. Finish sauce with butter, roasted garlic pepper seasoning and shaved parmesan cheese. Serve with your favorite vegetables and Maine lobster mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
Last bit of advice for pulling off a last-minute meal; “Start cooking, then figure out what it’s going to be later.” ~ Matthew Slattery, Executive Chef, Southernmost Beach Café
Southernmost Beach Café 1405 Duval Street, Key West, FL
Hours: Breakfast – 7am – 11am, Lunch 11am – 5pm, Dinner 5pm – 10pm, Happy Hour Sunday through Thursday 4pm – 6pm, Dinner Reservations are suggested. Book A Table
Next visit to Southernmost Beach Cafe say hi to Chef Matt and if you prepare the Drunken Scallops dish take a photo and share it with us on our social networks using the hashtag #somolife!