One of the many great things about multiple tentacled projects like this is how one things leads to another. Parts of the project are adopted by others, parts of the project spin off into other projects, and great people lead to other great people. In the case of Chef Matthew Taylor, we were led to him by way of banner artist Matthew Rezac, both out of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and both with ties to Nebraska. When one Matthew suggests another Matthew, how can one not take notice? Although Banner Artist Matthew grew up in Nebraska, Chef Matthew has slowly been lured to Nebraska. The luring is now finalized with Matthews recent move to Nebraska City to assume the position of Head Chef at the Arbor Day Lied Lodge and Conference Center.
When Matthew showed up at our first ‘chef meeting’, having altered his pre-move house hunting visit to Nebraska in order to attend, we knew we had found a perfect fit for this project. Arms covered in tattoos, charismatically speaking about his love of local food with a slight Chicago accent, and instantly building camaraderie with strangers through his praise of the region’s meats, cheeses, and vegetables. We were lucky to find Matthew.
Chef Matthew Taylor began his culinary career in the kitchens of renowned chef Raymond Timpone. Working under Chef Timpone at the famous Timpone’s Ristorante in Urbana, IL gave Matthew a taste for the rustic beauty and contemporary charm of Italian cooking. Chef Matthew then moved on to kitchens in the Champaign and Chicago areas. Matthew soon made a tour of kitchens from New York to Seattle. “Working for the chefs I respected and admired has been a great training ground for me”, explains Matthew when discussing his background. Chef Taylor has studied the cuisine and technique of classical French, Italian, and contemporary American cuisines.
Matthew has lived and worked in several regions in the United States. Along the way he has been exposed to a variety of styles and “regional identities” that have shaped his diversified palate. “Wherever I go, my connection with the community is through food.” This is one of the biggest propensities for the sourcing of local foods. Chef Taylor believes in the wholesome, vital freshness that comes with buying food from the farmers here in Nebraska. At Lied Lodge and conference Center at The Arbor Day Farm we try to source as much as possible from local farms to both support a healthy diet and a healthy local economy.
At the most recent chef meeting, Matthew initiated an engrossing discussion about including bison in the harvest dinner event, which then led to a discussion about prairie landscape conservation and restoration. The following week, we found ourselves speaking with bison ranchers and being asked to pick up a live bison for processing! The live part was quickly nixed, but bison is now on the menu and we can’t wait to see what Chef Matthew brings to a course that speaks to the deep history of our region, and undoubtedly a burgeoning future market.