Meet & Eat: Matt Kirouac, Writer of Brunch Dish
Editor's Note: I have to apologize up front, because as you probably know, Matt is not exactly new to Serious Eats Chicago. In fact, he wrote his first post back in February, making him something of a veteran around here. Hopefully he'll forgive me for not posting this before now. Anyway, ever since he started, he's been on a mission to find the best brunch possible, and it doesn't seem to matter where in the city that leads him. I'll let him take it from here.
Name: Matt Kirouac
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Freelance Food Writer
Guilty pleasures? It doesn't get any guiltier than Real Housewives of *insert any city here* with a takeout bag filled with egg rolls and nothing else. The takeout person or delivery person always gives me a judgmental look when I order just egg rolls, but I don't care.
Describe your perfect meal. My idea of the perfect meal would consist of food scrounged from a boardwalk along a beach in Maine. So in other words, my "meal" would be fried dough, chocolate-covered bananas, and greasy burgers. It's all about the setting and the company, so as long as I'm enjoying artery-clogging comfort food with friends at one of my most nostalgic spots, I am happy as a deep-fried clam.
What food won't you eat? Not many things I won't eat. I recently asked a restaurant owner what he recommended on his menu and he suggested fried caterpillars. I hoped he was joking and/or that my tepid response would deter him but he brought them out anyway and I ate them, hoping that Jeff Probst would emerge from some hidden closet and reward me with something. Anyway, I'll eat most anything at least once, regardless of whether or not I'm competing on Survivor. That being said, I don't ever really enjoy eating blood sausage.
Favorite food person? I don't really care for food television, so I don't have any "celebrity chefs" that I love. Nor do I buy into that phrase. My favorite food people are probably Rob and Allie Levitt. I just love them as people, and they happen to be food people so that works out conveniently. Always nice to visit The Butcher & Larder, though I don't do it nearly enough. I just admire what they've done and what they continue to do and who they are and just everything.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? When I was probably 14 or so, a sub shop opened near where I grew up in southern New Hampshire. It had eggplant Parmesan on the menu, and I had no idea what that was but I wanted to try it. The idea of eggplant was so foreign to me. I thought it might be some sort of literal egg plant, which seemed gross, but whatever. My mom warned me I wouldn't like it, which in retrospect was incredibly silly of her. I loved it! It opened my eyes to foods beyond what I grew up with, and I began wanting to try anything and everything. I started cooking at home and I became that annoying child who didn't want to eat fast-food and only wanted to eat "interesting food." I was such a pleasure to raise. Years later, my passion for food progressed to culinary school.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I think/hope my family mostly likes it. My dad is the most fun. He's up for eating anything anywhere. He's so amusing too, because he always mispronounces everything and asks me what certain things are, like brioche. Bless his heart. My brother is a lot of fun, too. For some reason he winds up eating a lot of chorizo anytime he visits me. Not sure what that's about. And he tried poached eggs for the first time in his life the last time he visited. What the hell, right?
Favorite food sites or blogs? I wind up reading every Eater site across the country everyday because it's a good aggregate for food and beverage news in every market. I'm also obsessed to the point of being a cyber stalker with Shit Food Bloggers Say.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? Liz Grossman and Lisa Shames are my favorite dining buddies. They're both food writers as well, so it's fun to get together and chat about what's new, what we like, etc. We go out to dinner periodically at new places we all want to try and it melts my heart.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Dessert. I have such a savage sweet tooth, and dessert to me can be enjoyed any time of day so I can satiate anywhere from a bakery in the afternoon to a restaurant at dinnertime. It all depends on my mood really. Sometimes it's gelato from Black Dog Gelato, sometimes it's a pie from Bang Bang Pie Shop. Actually, usually it's pie.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? Nope. Which is weird/tragic since I have a culinary degree. I can say that I used to cook a lot and I used to really enjoy making lasagna in various iterations. I also used to bake a lot of cakes and things that required licking lots of spatulas.