“I sort of accidentally stumbled upon this career.” When Matthew Britt began working as a dishwasher at the age of 15, little did he know the culinary field would change his life forever. Britt is a culinary arts instructor at JWU Providence’s College of Culinary Arts. He teaches a range of courses, including Cooking in the Global Marketplace (a freshman year lab,) and many junior/senior labs.
From the moment I shook Chef Britt’s tough, kitchen-callused hands, I knew I was in for a captivating interview and a culinary rollercoaster.
“I really came upon this [career] almost organically, continually pushing myself.” Britt explained how starting as a dishwasher made him appreciate all the roles in the kitchen. The dishwasher, after all, controls how organized the environment is — and is therefore in a position to prevent (or cause, depending) an “in the weeds” scenario. Furthermore, he told me how working in this position placed him in the epicenter of food and made him recognize what he wanted to do with his life.
Britt’s passion and love for his career radiated as he told me, “I like the people around me, I like this culture, and I love this lifestyle.” The early before-the-sun mornings and late-night hours didn’t deter Britt; in fact, they only fueled his desire to continue on this thrilling road. “I like being awake late at night — from age 15 all the way to my 20s, the culinary lifestyle really resonated with me.”
Everybody in this field is working toward a common goal.”
“Whether I knew it or not, I was becoming more and more obsessed with food.” Britt captivated my attention as he drew a picture of what a day in his life as a chef-instructor at JWU looked like. I could almost smell the dishes he described creating with his class in labs, feel the intensity and heat of the kitchen, and see the line setup with spotlessly clean sauté pans and endless amounts of kosher salt for seasoning.
I wanted to hear about Chef Britt’s inspirations in the culinary world, as well as experiences or moments with food that changed the way he thinks. Britt named various chefs from all around the world, including chefs that he worked under and alongside at various points in his career.
As an example, he detailed his recent visit to Noma, a two Michelin-star restaurant in Denmark. I could tell that he fell in love with the food, environment, and team. As he explained it, “Everybody in this field is working toward a common goal” — which is to spread the love, and creativity, of food, as well as to connect cultures by sharing a meal together around the table. Food affects every aspect of our lives every single day.
This chef’s day doesn’t end after the long hours of teaching. Britt is an advisor for a club on campus called Culinary Latina, as well as the Ski and Snowboard club. After learning about all the volunteering Britt does on- and off-campus, I realized how selfless he is. These characteristics make for not only a humble and talented chef instructor, but a person as well. These traits go together the way butter and flour come together to create the perfect roux.
Chef Britt’s Top 5 Moments at Copenhagen’s MAD Symposium
photos by Juliet Faas