Bistro Vendôme's Matt Anderson dishes on WHIRL, EVOO, brains and Bourdain
Matt Anderson wanted to become an Olympic downhill skier from the time he was three and wobbled on skis for the first time. But eighteen years later, he threw his skis in the trash. Anderson, once a member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, gave it up in 1991. "I crashed mentally," he says. "There was too much travel, I had too many injuries, and all of that combined just started to add up - and I walked away."
It wouldn't be the last time that Anderson, the chef de cuisine at Bistro Vendôme, would let his feet do the walking. Anderson, who was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had his first kitchen job at fourteen, at a country club, then boomeranged from ski hill to ski hill and college to college, eventually ending up at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. He was studying to become an artist...until the day he waltzed out of the classroom and never returned.
Instead, he strode two blocks down the street to the culinary school, where he filled out an application. And it was then, Anderson says, that he finally found his calling. "That's sort of where my whole life came together," he remembers. "I felt like I knew what I was doing at that point. It was something that I could stomach doing, and I felt good about cooking - about melding cooking and artistry."
Soon after graduating, Anderson landed in Denver, where he was hired as a line cook at the Flagstaff House. In 1999, he moved to Summit County to snowboard and cook; in 2004, he returned to the Mile High City and took a job as head chef at the now-defunct Amore in Cherry Creek. He was scouring Craigslist ads, searching for a new gig, when he came across a plea for a chef de cuisine at a nameless French restaurant.
The restaurant was Bistro Vendôme, where Anderson has been cooking for the past several years. "I love the honesty of cooking, because it's something tangible that I can put my hands on at the end of the day," he explains. "I just like to cook, to create something from nothing, starting with raw ingredients and seeing the results in front of my face."
In the following interview, Anderson talks about what happens when he's hungry, street smarts vs. book smarts, French butter and his boss, Jennifer Jasinski.