Silent, Strong & Skilled
Executive Chef Rob Matthews
Bliss Restaurant of Setauket
Words: Marie Ann Mordeno
Photos: Denise Day
Rob Matthews, Executive Chef of Bliss Restaurant in Setauket has many facets to his busy life. father, chef and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt. Reluctant to visit the front of the house at Bliss, he holds court in the kitchen.
“I speak fluent Spanish, he proudly admits,” and then winks to Jose
and his co-workers. “This way they can’t talk about me in front of me.”
Obviously, there is camaraderie in this culinary space. Chef Matthews has been at Bliss in Setauket working for proprietor Ron Hoffman, for over three of the restaurant’s nine years. They work well together. Ron manages Bliss Restaurant and skillfully hosts the front of the house, while Rob flawlessly controls the kitchen.
Rob has catered weddings, showers and all types of events on and off premises.
His cuisine is considered French American, yet he can provide and excellent Pasta Bolognese and recently an Eggplant Cappanata appetizer. His menu can often be creative featuring Spaghetti Squash Goat Cheese Flatbread or a basic, but satisfying, Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes as well as an inspired Chilean Sea Bass dish.
His mom, Carol Matthews has owned the Bridge Studio in Smithtown for years and he grew up around the game. His dad is an appraiser. Rob chose a different route.
“I used to play bridge as a kid, but now, I am not sure I can remember all the rules.”
He is very proud of his beautiful, nine year old, daughter Lea, who is in third grade. Cooking sessions with Lea are fun for Rob. Recently, he taught her to make a delicious Japanese dumpling called Gyoto.
His background is impressive. He knew he wanted to cook, watching The Frugal Gourmet at six years old. Graham Kerr was his idol and later, he was upset when a scandal broke. He was trained at the New York Tech Culinary Institute in Central Islip.
Chef Matthew’s resume includes a year under the tutelage of Guy Rouge
of Mirabelle’s in St. James, prior to its relocation at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook. Guy, the only five star chef on Long Island, was an excellent mentor. Rob learned the roots of his culinary skills from him.
His experience also included time at Kitchen a’ Bistro in St. James with Eric Lamondo and at La Plage in Wading River with Wayne Waddington. Chef Matthews remembers a night at La Plage cooking for Christy Brinkley. He remembers that she was breathtakingly beautiful and ordered Salmon.
Rob will never forget one night working at The Country House in Stony Brook, which is touted to be haunted,
“I really did not believe it until one night, I was cleaning up the kitchen alone and I heard a woman’s blood curdling scream. I thought I was hearing things, until I heard it again. I ran out of the restaurant believing. There were stories about her turning music on and off and towels flying around.”
There is little time for dating and dining in his busy schedule, but he manages to fit in time with his daughter and his sport, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is his avocation. It takes dedication and perseverance to obtain a blue belt.
“I attend the Kioto Academy, which specializes in Martial Arts. The Japanese introduced Jiu Jitsu and the Brazilians improved on it. It is a sport that keeps one in good shape and is ground fighting based on leverage. The highest ranking is Francisco Mansur. You wear a Gi, a kimono top with pants, belted in white, black or blue, depending on your skill.”
Still at the beginning of his culinary career, Chef Matthews hopes to one day own a Breakfast/Lunch place. This would allow free time for his sport and his family especially Lea. If I had the time, I would dine at Eric Ripert’s, Le Bernardin and Thomas Keller’s, Per Se. I like cuisine clean and simple.
Chef Rob Matthews comes with good experience and loves to cook. His future appears bright. Visit him and taste his cuisine at Bliss Restaurant on 25A in Setauket. Ron Hoffman will greet you and seat you. Rob will attend to your dinner. They are a perfect match.
For reservations and more information on Bliss Restaurant, go to www.blissli.com or call 631-941-0430.