The untold truth of Matty Matheson

Television and movies often portray the life of a chef as sexy, and why wouldn't they? Tantalizing patrons' taste buds while running a seamless kitchen with authority and pride practically sounds magical. But, if you ever have the opportunity to actually speak with one about the gritty behind-the-scenes details, you quickly learn it's anything but magical. It's straight up stressful.

Running a successful kitchen service night after night can wear out even the most seasoned employees, but when a leader like Matty Matheson firmly grips the stainless steel steering wheel, a staff thrives. All too often, chefs lead with an iron fist, which often adds to the night's rising stress levels. When line cooks and other kitchen staff see an enthusiastic energy like Matty's hit the floor, however, confidence builds, and that sparks passion all around an establishment.

As the large-than-life chef so eloquently puts it, "There's only one Matty, bro."

He was booted out of one high school after his freshman year

When asked about his pre-culinary school days, he's brutally honest about his lack of interest in anything academic. Why would he ever need classes like advanced math or science? He wanted out as fast as possible, and teachers at Ontario's Fort Erie High acted on it.

After his freshman year — one marred with fights, disruptive behavior, and an overall negative attitude — school officials asked him not to return. He wasn't exactly expelled, as they pointed out, but they all preferred he found a different district to finish out his high school career.

He finagled his way into Lakeshore Catholic High School but was still met with cautious stares — a guy with green hair, nail polish, and a boisterous demeanor wasn't exactly the poster child for Catholic school — but since it was the only school near his home with buses that picked him up, he cleaned up his act and graduated three years later.

He loves tattoos. Like, a lot

One look at Matty and you know the dude loves ink — nearly every inch of skin screams it. After spending that kind of moolah, you'd hope at least some have a special meaning, and you'd be right.

Oddly, the worst tattoo on his body (in his opinion) is also quite meaningful. Dedicated to his sister Sarah while she handled a rocky patch with her ex-husband, Matty had a guy from Albuquerque, New Mexico, draw a heart with her name through it underneath his right pectoral. Although he hated the end product — he said the artist was probably "a meth head or something" — it represents family, and that's worth going under the needle for any day.

Across his right knuckles are the letters D-S-O-L, an acronym for his VICE show Dead Set on Life. This also represents the moment he kicked his uncontrollable drinking habit for a life of responsibility. Kick the habit, get a tattoo. That's the Matheson way.

His most meaningful tattoo, not surprisingly, is his son's name running down his chest. "Macarthur," or "Mac" as Matty calls him, will live on forever, nestled comfortably on the proud chef's chest — a tattoo only a son could love and a father could flaunt.

Youthful partying nearly cost him his life

Never one to shy away from spilling the less-savory details of his life, Matty frequently regales stories of drug binges lasting days at a time. There was nothing he wouldn't consume if offered to him, often taking multiple kinds of substances at once. When making the decision to party Matty Matheson style, you needed to buckle in as tight as possible and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times — things were about to get crazy.

For 15 years, Matty soaked up as much alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, and acid as he could get his hands on. He was a self-appointed "garbage head," someone who could, and would, constantly dabble in mind-altering substances. Everything was fun and games until June 2012, when a heart attack landed the 29-year-old in the hospital.

While a heart attack at 29 would bring the party lifestyle to a screeching halt for most people, it would take more than a measly medical scare to stop Matty's urge to binge. Miraculously, it eventually happened, and he finally put to rest his chaotic lifestyle.

He conquered alcoholism like a champion

Alcoholism is a disease, and anyone who's ever known someone in its grip can attest to the horror. It changes people for the worse, causing them to commit terrible acts like lying, cheating, abusing, and neglecting those around them. Despite the amount of treatment options available, some fall victim and never return. Luckily, Matty climbed out of the abyss, but it wasn't easy.

Before choosing a life of sobriety, Matty solidified his reputation as a "party guy" early on. He was always the loudest and craziest, and when fellow chefs came into town to rage, he welcomed them with open arms. However, as friends and coworkers around him ditched the antics to pursue careers, Matty stayed put, satisfied with the role he carved out for himself knocking back copious amounts of alcohol and showboating everywhere he went.

Tired of the ongoing shenanigans and drunken stupors, three of his close friends staged an intervention, and amazingly, Matty accepted. Even though he disguised it well, he was tired, both mentally and physically, of the exhausting existence.

Does he miss sipping a fine wine with an extravagant meal? You bet he does, and every sober day takes effort. But, his passion for food filled the void left by the booze, and he enthusiastically declares he's "the best version of me."

He never had intentions of making it big as a chef

A chef who holds the accolades Matty Matheson does surely had dreams of making it big in the kitchen, right? Heck no! He found himself sitting in Toronto's Humber College culinary school for one reason only: It was literally the only program willing to accept him after high school. But, it was soon apparent handling knives and pairing ingredients were his strong suit. For the first time in his entire academic career, he earned decent grades and enjoyed doing it.

However, Matty led a renegade lifestyle, and two weeks prior to graduating, he abandoned school to tour with his friends' metal band (which is a very metal thing to do). After the substance-fueled tour ended, he returned to Toronto, resume in hand, and started the job hunt, which, fortunately, didn't last long.

Le Select Bistro offered a job to the culinary school dropout, and Matty accepted the offer. There, he rounded the kitchen stations under the supervision of head chef Rang Nguyen, who taught an eager Matty how to make classic French dishes. Our tattooed friend was hooked, and now began his gradual climb to the top.

His lasagna recipe is "guaranteed to get you laid"

You've heard the expression "a way to a man's heart is through his stomach," but men aren't the only gender it applies to. Whipping up a delicious meal for any partner is a sure-fire way to score serious brownie points and, according to Matty, get a little bedroom action, as well. His dish of choice is lasagna, and it quite literally is bangin'.

So, listen up all you hopeful romantics: don't just grab a bunch of ingredients you think will make an epic lasagna, because chances are you'll find yourself waking up alone. First, use nothing but fresh products, including a great olive oil. Once everything reduces down, the flavors combine to create a concoction any Italian grandmother would brag about.

Once all the ingredients are meticulously layered into a deep pan — pasta, meat, cheese, repeat — throw that bad boy into the oven, and let the magic take place. The golden brown crust that forms on top ends the show, and now it's a one-way trip into your rumbling bellies.

Garfield would be so proud.

You must abide by Matty's three essential cooking tips

Anyone who's worked even one day in a kitchen knows there's a LOT to learn. Narrowing down all the tips and tricks to just three might seem like an impossible feat to lesser chefs, but Matty's bases are covered. Of course, these three merely scratch the surface of the immense world of cookery, but they're the foundation on which to build.

Knives are the cornerstone of any successful kitchen. If you plan on rising to the ranks of home chef, splurge on a good one. Pair with it a solid cutting board, sturdy pan, and capable spoon — your food will thank you for it later. Cheap equipment's bogus, so don't fall into the trap of accumulating it.

While you can sometimes get away with using cheap pantry items, always spend the money on quality staple goods, like olive oil, flour, and salt. These ingredients alone crank a dish up from ten to 11 real quick. Oh, and maple syrup. We can all agree our pancakes need tender loving care, as well.

Finally, don't harbor spices in your cabinets for an extended time! They dry out, as all food does, and dull flavors make for dull meals. Get to know your supermarket's spice aisle. You should plan on spending time there more often, you home chef, you.

His top five pantry foods might surprise you

In a perfect world, we'd all swim in fat stacks of cash, able to afford whatever we want whenever we wanted it. Since that reality doesn't exist, people gravitate toward the affordable. Matty shops at local discount stores, but there are a few things he'll shell out top dollar for, and maybe you should, too.

  1. Super-charged olive oil: When Matty visits New York, he leaves with Frankies 457 Spuntino Extra Virgin Olive Oil. At 18 bucks a pop, it's a tough sell for many, but Matty swears it's the "perfect oil."

  2. Loganberry syrup: This thick hybrid liquid made from blackberries and raspberries was a staple in Matty's neighborhood growing up, and everyone used the same brand: PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry Syrup. During the sweltering days of summer, this purple drink does the body perfect.

  3. Maple syrup: Don't let the old-timey medicine bottle-look throw you off. Societe Original Remonte-Pente Maple Syrup is the real deal according to the big guy. "Pure, toasty, and made with such precision and care."

  4. Hostess cupcakes: "Hey! Where's the cream filling?" Answer: inside these cupcakes! Although his wife prefers he avoids these rich sugar-laden snacks, Matty's all in.

  5. Special tomatoes: Each bite of Bianco DiNapoli Whole Peeled Organic Tomatoes whisks you away to the hills of Tuscany, claims Matty. Developed by the head chef of Phoenix's famous Pizzeria Bianco, they supposedly taste like succulent strawberries.

His favorite failure? His career

Success stories rarely come without a slew of failures beforehand — some of them huge, and others are just small roadblocks along the way. Matty encountered his fair share of struggles along his path to fame, but the fact that he considers his career his favorite failure may puzzle just about anyone.

Although Matty thoroughly enjoyed the high points of his journey, such as opening Parts & Labour and OddFellows (both now closed) at a young age and working alongside Michelin-rated chefs — he saw plenty of lows. He mismanaged money, closed restaurants that weren't performing up to standards, and even stole during his early days. He describes his career as "a kerfuffle," but one he greatly appreciates and constantly learns from.

Matty admits the biggest risk he took was "believing in myself." If it wasn't for the trials and tribulations that carried him to the level he's currently at, there's no telling what route his life would've gone. It's safe to say the culinary world smiles on the route it did.

Do yourself a favor and check out his epic Instagram account

This is one chef who goes the extra mile to ensure his Instagram account kicks major butt. If you assume it's inundated with high-quality photos of Kobe beef or divine Michelin meals, you'd assume wrong. Sure, he's got enough saliva-inducing pictures to satisfy any foodie, but it's the other stuff that piques the interest of Instagram addicts.

For one thing, the guy's not afraid to show some skin. He's large and in charge, and he posts the photos to prove it. Are you bold enough to show the world what a bird's-eye view of you sitting on the toilet looks like? Matty is, and that's why people love him.

His Instagram account's also a fervent reminder of how important family and friends are to him. Anyone in need of good vibes can fire up his pictures and bask in the positive energy radiating off his contagious smile. A photo with Bill Nye, science's coolest guy? Yea, he's got one. Are you a fan of the Trailer Park Boys? Well, so is Matty, but you probably don't have a picture with them.

Brag about your Instagram heroics all you want, but you'll find it nearly impossible to match Matty's pound for pound. Well, picture for picture if you want to get technical.

His cookbook gives a glimpse into his intimate side

Knowledge isn't something to hold secret, no matter what it is. Matty agrees wholeheartedly with this, and he blessed the culinary landscape with a cookbook, aptly titled, Matty Matheson: A Cookbook. Inside its cover, expect to find tons of great Matheson family recipes, as well as a glimpse into the fond memories that laid the groundwork of his eventual passion: good eating.

With phrases like, "You could pour this on like a burning baby diaper and suck it off like a soup dumpling from a Chinatown Chinese restaurant" (referencing a maple bacon Jack Daniel's sauce), this is a far cry from your grandma's cookbooks.

Matty emphasizes the book is an unfiltered look into his childhood, reminiscing about the days he spent with his grandfather shucking fresh oysters with a rusted knife or sleeping in banquettes every time he visited the family restaurant. There's an undeniable honesty in his words — at one point he shares his hatred of the cheeseburgers he used to serve at Parts and Labour — but it all comes from the heart. He's a man who stays true to himself and his craft, so to expect anything less of his cookbook is on you.

Breakfast food isn't getting him out of bed

Although nutritionists implore you to eat breakfast because it's the most important meal of the day, Matty isn't having any of it. In the hierarchy of daily meals, breakfast sits lonely on the bottom. He'd rather start his day with a rich bowl of pho, the Vietnamese noodle dish.

Since a hearty helping of delicate noodles isn't exactly what most places offer early risers in America, Matty does have a breakfast go-to: hash. He nicknames the stuff "fridge-cleaner" because you can throw in just about anything living in your refrigerator. Time for a fridge purge? If the answer's a resounding "yes," there's no better time to fire up a helping (or two) of hash.

For a guy who avoids breakfast like Superman avoids Kryptonite, there's one pet peeve he finds hard to forgive: cold syrup on a stack of hot pancakes. Do everyone a favor and heat that sugary nectar up before dressing that stack — you owe it to your appetite.

In 2015, the Canadian political trail was served a heaping dose of Matty

It costs a whopping $3000 a day for organizations to send national correspondents on Canada's Conservative Party's media circuit. So, in 2016, what did VICE do when they heard the news? They sent everyone's favorite personality, Matty Matheson, to buddy up with Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for an experience of a lifetime.

Matty entered the media circuit on its last leg, full of charisma and questions. During the rally, he was lucky enough to ask the prime minister a question regarding the mistreatment of aboriginal women. After the rally wrapped up, Matty roamed the area, mingling with political activists to learn everything he could about the problems everyday citizens faced.

Before his 24-hour stint ended, Matty accepted an offer to fly on Stephen Harper's jet, gaining valuable insight into the leader's political agenda. He encountered people on both ends of the political spectrum, giving viewers a front-row seat to the helm of dispute. Matty Matheson for prime minister? Hmm…

He loves his sneaker collection but hates his own food

Sneakerheads may not be the fastest growing group in the world, but Matty wears his shoe obsession like a badge of honor. If you need proof, the 200 pairs he owns should suffice. He's loaded up with Jordans but prefers classic Nikes, Reeboks, and Adidas. What once started as a hankering for jackets quickly turned to shoes, and he hasn't looked back since. Even though 200 pairs adorn his closet shelves, he rocks out with his Vans Sk8 Hi's most of the time.

When asked about his favorite dish at any of his restaurants, he shockingly declares he hates the food he serves. He turns antsy when it comes to keeping a menu fresh, and sometimes, even after just one week, new dishes bore him. And no one throws shade at a dish quite like the chef who created it.

However, if Matty had to choose, he's taking down steak tartare.