Meet chef Matt Broussard
He’s A Cook Named Matt to his growing legion of loyal fans. He’s got more than 4 million followers on TikTok, nearly 200,000 subscribers on YouTube and 320,000 more on Insta.
The secret to his success? He puts on a spectacular show, whether it’s frying up fatback or chopping chocolate with a fancy knife for a stunning cup of cocoa. It’s impossible not to be entertained and inspired. Especially when the dude wearing the high-end apron engages with his followers, responding to nearly every comment.
He credits the women in his life — his mother, Elizabeth, grandmother, Beverly, and aunts — with first fueling his desire to cook. “I got my first kitchen job in high school and I’ve never looked back,” said the 28-year-old Brownsville, Texas native.
After graduating from culinary school — Le Cordon Bleu — he headed to Seattle to try and land a job with one of his heroes, Tom Douglas.
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“I wanted to work at Palace Kitchen so bad. I loved the food and vibe there with that wood fire grill and open kitchen,” he said. “I wanted to work there so bad, I had a senator from Texas send a letter of recommendation to Tom. Ha!”
Well, the glowing report must’ve hit the mark because Broussard landed his dream job and soon learned he had a lot to learn. “When I started working there I was the youngest of the bunch. Everyone was already 10 to 20 years experience and I was still pretty fresh.”
Some of his earliest TikTok’s feature the Palace Kitchen, which is currently closed due to the pandemic. “Working the wood fire at Palace was hands-down the best experience,” Broussard said. He later was a roving chef for the company’s 15 restaurants.
Before Covid-19 deeply impacted the restaurant industry, Broussard landed a gig at Spiceology in Spokane, Wash., 270 miles east of Seattle. That company, which was launched in 2013 by chef Pete Taylor and Heather Scholten, author of the Farmgirl Gourmet blog, creates sugar and spice blends for professional kitchens and home cooks.
Broussard’s duties include recipe development and — yup, you guessed it — starring in cooking videos. So, yes, he gets paid to make viewers laugh and gasp and sometimes groan. Followers hit replay for tips on how to make those silly-good Jalapeño Lime Goldfish Crackers, an elegant Spam Japanese-style omelette, the mouthwatering tribute to Arby’s Beef and Cheddar using flash-seared Waygu, and the sexiest Butter Chicken you’ve ever seen.
He mostly works solo, capturing the action with a Sony camera. But Broussard recently captured a big day frying up pork belly after breaking down a whole hog with chef Isaac Toups. That master butcher owns and operates Toups Meatery in New Orleans.
All these tasty turns grabbed the attention of the development team at Instagram this summer and Broussard was invited to be one of the first to use Reels, the 15-second video stories that loop. His first effort in August got more than 16,000 views.
With the warm glow of small screen fame comes in the inevitable influencer sponsorships, collaborations and product plugs. Broussard’s trusty induction burner — the Polyscience Control Freak — is courtesy of Breville, for instance. And those beautiful custom knives flashing across the screen come from Fire Horse Forge in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
He’s partnered up with Bounty Paper Towels, Idaho Potatoes and Cap’n Crunch to name a few, the latter featured in an over-the-top French toast preparation.
It might be tempting to dismiss these efforts as straight-up food porn, but the dishes are inspired and inspiring, not gimmicky. The performance pieces are far from the industry standard hands-and-pans videos. They’re fun and fairly addictive. Just ask the viewers who’ve heaped 190 million likes on the collection.
Broussard’s got no plans to slow the pace of his social media posts, but he’s also working on several projects including virtual cooking classes and team building events. Maybe he’ll even share a TikTok trick or two with students.
Eventually, he’d love to have his own kitchen and staff one day, but that’s down the road. “I just love what I do,” he said.