If you’ve read the site for awhile, you’re likely familiar with Matt Moore, AoM’s resident food writer. Matt broke into the cookbook scene with his self-published cookbook Have Her Over For Dinner, which was named one of the best cookbooks of 2010 by The New York Times. Since then, Matt has continued to write about cooking, created a successful cologne business with his college buds, and started a family. Matt recently published a book with Southern Living magazine entitled A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen. Today on the podcast I talk to Matt about cooking, chivalry, boar hunting, entrepreneurship, and how to make the perfect steak.
- How Matt shifted from a music career to writing about cooking — without ever going to culinary school
- How Matt started a successful cologne company — Moonshine Cologne — without any experience in the fragrance industry
- How to deal with rejection when you’re an entrepreneur
- Why a man should know how to cook
- Matt’s tips for cooking the perfect steak
- And much more!
Matt’s new cookbook is the best I’ve ever come across (and I’m not just saying that because I wrote the foreword for it!). The recipes are top-notch and Matt has a real knack for making cooking accessible and approachable. What’s more, this is a cookbook you’ll actually want to read. He weaves in great stories behind the recipes and the book is crammed full of amazing photos. Pick up a copy of A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen today. You’ll definitely enjoy it.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Special thanks to Keelan O’Hara for editing the podcast!
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. If you’ve been following the site for awhile you probably are familiar with Matt Moore. He is our resident chef on the artofmanliness.com. He has written the lion share of the cooking content on our site. He’s done stuff about how to make your homemade pasta, how to make gumbo, how to make chili, how to cook with wild game. All sorts of great stuff. The thing I love about Matt is he makes cooking approachable and it’s not intimidating. That’s one of the reasons I love publishing his content on our site.
Anyway, Matt’s got a new book out. It’s a big deal. It’s with Southern Living magazine. It’s called “A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen: Adventures in Cooking, Eating, and Living in the New South.” Today on the show, we’re going to talk about Matt’s really interesting background because he didn’t start off being a cookbook writer. In fact, started out as a musician. In addition to his cookbook thing, he also has a cologne company that he runs with his friends. It’s called Moonshine Cologne. He’s done some other stuff too. It’s my favorite cologne.
Really interesting guy. Really interesting background. We’re talking about entrepreneurship, then we’re going to talk about why a man should know how to cook. We’re going to talk about his boar hunt from a helicopter and cooking that boar that he killed. We’re also going to discuss the intricacy and the finer points of cooking the perfect steak. Really fun podcast with some really great takeaways as well. I think you’re going to like this. Without further ado, Mr. Matt Moore.
Matt Moore, welcome to the show.
Matt Moore: Thank you so much. For many, many years it’s only been me writing so I get a chance to ponder over every little word and now I might have to preface this if I say something stupid. I apologize.
Brett McKay: No, I know how it goes man. For those of you who don’t read the website regularly and just a podcast listener, Matt has been … Have long have you been writing cooking content for us?
Matt Moore: We have been writing together for I believe just around five years.
Brett McKay: Yeah. That’s great. How did we connect? You reached out to me about your first cookbook, right?
Matt Moore: I did yeah. A buddy of mine had emailed me on Facebook at the time that I just launched the first book, “Have Her Over For Dinner” and he was actually living in Hawaii at the time and he said, “Hey man, I’ve come across this blog. I think it’s a great fit. You should reach out to him and see if you could do a guest post.” I remember emailing you and you got back with me pretty quickly and I pitched you on the whole idea of guys cooking for girls. We just kind of started our relationship there, through the internet. We met on the internet.
Brett McKay: We met on the internet. That’s how it goes these days. Let’s start talking about your history because you have an interesting background story, right?
Matt Moore: Sure.
Brett McKay: You’ve just come out with your new book “Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen” done with Southern Living magazine. Big deal. Then you did the cookbook, “Have Her Over For Dinner.” Well talk about how you self published that. Was becoming an expert cookbook writer, was that your initial goal when you started out your adult life?
Matt Moore: Absolutely not.
Brett McKay: How did that happen?
Matt Moore: What a long strange trip it’s been. For me, I was really fortunate. Grew up outside just outside Atlanta, Georgia. I was really, really active in sports. Some of my friends have gone on to play in the major leagues and football and baseball. For many, many years I thought that I was destined to become the next great baseball player. Some injuries came along and I probably wasn’t good enough in the first place. Let’s not kid ourselves here. I went to the University of Georgia and my second love was always music. I was in a band for about six years, four of those through college where we toured all over the southeast and much of the east coast.
Then I had a dream that I wanted to be in Nashville Tennessee, came to Nashville. Our band was ready to go and hit the road and then the band broke up. I remember at the time when I moved to Nashville I reached out to a friend of mine. It was the only guy that I knew here in town. He was a songwriter. He was the creative director of EMI Music Publishing. I’ll never forget it. I sent him an email. I said, “Hey Bruce, I finally made it to Nashville, Tennessee. The band broke up but I’m here. Can’t wait to do it.” He said you know what Matt that’s great. He said it’s a 10 year town. He said the problem is I just moved back down to Athens, Georgia to start the music department for the University of Georgia, which is where I had gone to school.
You often hear that many, many times when it comes to Nashville and how long the process can be in the music world. I kind of kept myself fortunate in the sense that in my first few years were really fun. I got to go out and see a lot of great things as a musician and as a performer. A lot of the guys that I know that I featured in this book that are near and dear to my heart are now at the top of the country music charts but to be honest with you Brett, I really kind of lost my passion for music.
It really wasn’t something I had my heart into and I really loved writing. I loved teaching guys about some of the experiences I had grown up with food and that all started from playing music. We would go down to New Orleans and play shows all over the state of Georgia and we’d bring back all this great food and throw big parties and I kind of had this idea of sorts at that time that maybe writing a cookbook was a bit of a good idea. That’s really a crazy path that led me into this whole world of food.
Brett McKay: Okay, and your first cookbook was self published, right?
Matt Moore: It was. I had a buddy of mine who was working for one of the artist agencies here in town. I told him, “Hey man, I think I’m going to write a cookbook.” At the time he was like that’s a great idea. He was a young agent in the music business. He never liked my music but all the sudden he liked this cookbook idea. We still laugh about it to this day.
I kind of put together a book proposal and he flew out on a plane to Los Angeles to meet with the creative folks at Creative Artist Agency and the first thing they said was well this is real cute. I mean, your friend doesn’t have a platform. Doesn’t have a popular blog. He’s not a celebrity. Why in the world would you ever think that A, that we’d be interested in signing this guy. B, he’s not a chef so why does he want to write a cookbook? C, they kind of made a joke. They said all of our publishing department is based in New York, and not LA.
We found out pretty quickly that … I say it to no avail, we were so green back then that we just didn’t know any better, which led me down the road of getting a thousand no’s from basically every agent and publisher in New York which led me to the self publishing process.
Brett McKay: What was great about it though, it was a hit. The New York Times called it one of the best cookbooks of … When was this published? I think it was like …
Matt Moore: Yeah, that was in 2011.
Brett McKay: Okay.
Matt Moore: That was a long road. Right now the idea for books and even music and albums in business I think we have this tendency that when it launches it’s like that’s our opportunity to seize the moment and you’ve got to build up this huge bit of momentum. Your business has to get this much funding or your album has to sell this many copies. Your book has to this that or the other. For me, coming out of the music business, especially the independent music business, I kind of just started to pepper and build a little bit of a following in Nashville and then just outside of Atlanta where I was from. It was a slow build. It was reaching out to folks like yourself that were starting out, building blogs, trying to spread the word organically.
Saying it was a success, to be honest with you I was probably 8 to 10 months in post book launch and it was a fun period in my life. I put up some money and scratched up what I had and went out to sort of promoting it and knocking on a ton of doors. It wasn’t like the New York Times just got a copy and all the sudden said this is one of the year’s best cookbooks. It took a ton of work and I’d say even more rejection.
Often times people see a story like mine and they’re like man I could never do that but it’s a marathon. It’s something that you have to wake up … I like to say everyday, I think we wrote an article about this back then that my goal everyday whether it’s in business or anything creative is that I want to wake up everyday and hear the word no a hundred times. If I hear that that many times, A, it tells me that I’m pitching hard enough. Not everyone is going like what you do.
I also know that the more and more of those that you que up, you’re going to start to get some yes’s. It’s hard to hear the word no and for folks to maybe not like your ideas or what you’re doing but if you’re constantly afraid that you’re never putting something out there, you’re actually just never going to grow or get anywhere. That was a lesson that I learned by self publishing that book. I have to attribute a lot of the later success to those early lessons that I learned.
Brett McKay: How do you get over that fear of rejection? Is it just a matter of exposing yourself to it as much as you can where you just sort of become desensitized to it or do you engage in these sort of like mindsets work to help you steel yourself up for the rejection, or is it just a matter of you just get used to it?
Matt Moore: It’s like my favorite Pink Floyd song, “Comfortable Numb.” I’d say especially in the creative space, if you’re a writer or a you’re in music, you’re a chef. It’s tough when people don’t like what you do. Even as an entrepreneur it almost feels personal. For me, I think that one of the biggest strengths that you have if you’re interested in that space is to very quickly get over that. Value people’s opinions.
I think I’ve been told no on a lot of ideas that I did not end up pursuing and in hindsight I’m glad that I was told the word no. I’m glad it gave me pause to maybe reconsider or adapt or change. Even when I turn in an article for you that you don’t feel like is on point. Often times that a good chance for me to go back and reconsider what I’m trying to do. At the same time you can be super passionate and I like to sometimes use the word no as more fuel to the fire. Those words that keep coming up in rejections just kind of provide me with a little bit more ammunition to keep pursuing and being persistent and being even more determined to make sure that I’m doing everything possible to go out and achieve my goals.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Before we get more into cooking, we’ve got to bring up the fact that the cooking thing, the music, isn’t the only thing you’ve done. You’ve also, along with a group of your friends, started a cologne company. The reason I bring that up is because I’m in my closet right now and there’s a bottle of Moonshine looking at me. If you guys haven’t checked this stuff out …
Matt Moore: Don’t drink it.
Brett McKay: No, don’t drink it. No. That would kill you.
Matt Moore: You’re a former attorney so you can see that we’ve basically put that on every part of the box.
Brett McKay: No, but it smells fantastic. It’s my favorite cologne. How did that happen? Was this a plan for a long time or did this happen just at a spur of the moment thing? How did you end up becoming or creating a cologne fragrance company?
Matt Moore: I think this is the important lesson that I want all the listeners to take away is you never really know where your path is going to lead right? I think we can always try to make plans or study a certain venture and try to force things down a certain path but if you pull anything from my story hopefully it’s like you never know what opportunity is going to lead you into the next one. I went to the University of Georgia. Really wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. My parents told me to study business. I ended up getting a degree in international finance and French. I really liked this girl that was in my French class throughout college and that’s why I pursued it so heavily.
Then you hear the back story of moving to Nashville and doing the cookbook. Then I hit this phase where even thought I’d had a bit of success, critical success in the food writing world, I had this idea for the book that we just now published five years later. Still, even with the New York Times, and all the cool things that that led to, could not find a home for the book.
I kind of was a little bit disenfranchised. Just wanted to take a little bit of time off if you will. I was tired of hearing the word no and I was on a long run one day. Often times that’s kind of my creative space is to go out for a long run and to just kind of let my mind wander. A buddy of mine that I went to college with was actually doing some male modeling and trust me, we gave him a hard time for that. For some brands, basically they were taking like polo shirts and instead of it being a horse they were putting like, I don’t know, some other icon on it and repacking it and calling it a southern brand and selling it. It seemed to be a successful venture.
I had another partner of mine that was a good friend. He’s an attorney and I kind of pitched him the idea. I was like man, I’ve never really known anything about fragrance but in the same way that I thought the cookbook publishing world was this antiquated world that was so driven by celebrity and hype, I thought that the name Moonshine Cologne would really reverberate very well with what I grew up with. Good old boys from the south, lots of attorney guys in college that maybe have never worn fragrance because they didn’t want Justin Beiber to tell them what they wanted to smell like.
We just kind of stumbled onto it. It was one of those things we were like, you know what, we’re good friends. This would be a cool business opportunity. At the worst case scenario, we’re going to have great Christmas presents for our friends and family for the next three years.
Again, being that green because we were just that green … The fragrance business is just crazy complicated business that’s really managed throughout Europe and the world. The United States is actually 7th in the world in terms of per capita spending on fragrance. We launched in the least profitable market. We had to do a lot of international partnerships and in hindsight my parents are very happy because I’m finally using my degree in international business and speaking French with a lot of partners over there. We saw a void in the marketplace.
I think the big lesson learned is that we were maybe a little bit green and didn’t know enough about it but we weren’t phased by the major brands and the major players. We put our money where our mouth was. It was a smaller investment. I think often times when people are looking at starting companies, especially if they’ve come from the corporate world or they’ve come from a world where they’re not floating the start up capital they think right on … We need a brand manager and a graphic designer, and a publicist and all these things. We did everything ourselves. Even to this day we still everything to ourselves. That could be a fault based on the size of the company that we’ve grown but we just work our tail off every day.
It came about very naturally and organically and we’ve even told the story on your site from starting out in my friend’s parent’s basement hand bottling this fragrance and picking up the phone and call stores throughout the country and literally it store by store. It’s just waking up and taking that first step forward every single day. We’ve built it to a successful company. I think there’s a lot of luck. We’re very humbled by it. We’re very grateful for it. Even as we’ve matured as a company we’ve realized that we’ve got to continue to nurture it and grow it, and always keep it at the forefront that if you don’t pay attention to it that a lot of those blessings we received from our hard work will go away.
Brett McKay: All right so let’s talk cooking here. You’ve sort of made it your mission in life to not just write about cooking but write it geared towards men. Why is that? Why are a lot of men apprehensive about cooking in the first place?
Matt Moore: You’re right, it is kind of mission statement for me. Growing up I was fortunate to be in a home where every night whether I came home from football or baseball practice, my father not only said hey you got to get your homework done, you got to clean the kitchen, but you’re also going to help Mom out and be there as well. I attribute a lot of the strength of my family and the relationships that we have, a lot of my upbringing to the nightly ritual of sitting around with my family and not playing on the phone, not watching TV, not at the neighborhood restaurant. Just sitting down and having a family meal.
When I got to college and beyond, I kind of realized that men and women for that matter didn’t really have the same experience that I had. A lot of the meals were outsourced to the local restaurant where’s there’s a lot of distractions. The central idea of cooking, really nobody knew how to cook. Most people don’t think men know how to cook but it really was true for that generation because it just wasn’t a common thing that they saw in the household. For me, I found a lot of joy in teaching others what I had learned from family experiences.
I also came to find that I believe that men can become better men in the strangest of all places, which is the kitchen. That’s much of the subject of all the articles that I write for you. I like to tell stories of what the end goal is. It’s not just a fried chicken recipe but it’s a chance for you to try something new. It’s chance for you take on a bit of risk, a little bit of an adventure. Also the satisfaction that can result from doing something that you’ve never done before, you’ve never had experience in doing.
I think the niche that a lot of folks have left out and what’s been my strong suit is making cooking super approachable. You turn on the TV, you watch Top Chef, you watch Chopped. These are pretty amazing shows but nobody even knows how to boil water that’s watching these shows. Yet they can just turn to me and critique the flambay style. It sounds ridiculous to me.
Instead what I wanted to do within my writing is always really careful to keep things as simple as possible, make it as approachable as possible. Make it affordable. If I’m trying to tell somebody to skip the restaurant down the street and make something at home, I want them to spend less making it at home than they do just going out to eat. That’s often a really tough thing, especially if they’re single guys or young couples. If I told you to make fajitas in your house or you want to make chicken and shrimp and guacamole and sour cream and cheese and everything else I’d say you know what, go down to the local restaurant because you’ll never make it cheaper than what you can buy it for. I’m always trying to tailor that for my audience and invite people into the kitchen and show them that it is something that they can do.
Brett McKay: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons we’ve loved having you write articles for the site, is you do make it approachable. Even for me, I’m somewhat … My go to meals for when it’s my turn to cook it’s like hot dogs, hamburgers, chili, eggs, and pancakes.
Matt Moore: Nothing wrong with all those man.
Brett McKay: Yeah, nothing wrong with that, good stuff but whenever you publish an article or just flipping through the book, “A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen” I look at this stuff and I’m like I could do that, right? Even though it looks amazing, it looks like something you have to be a five star chef to know how to do, you look at the prep and the recipe, and ingredients and you’re like wow, that’s actually not that hard.
Matt Moore: Yeah, and that’s a big philosophy for me. I always am really conscious about the ingredients I’m using, the techniques I’m using. Let’s get real. Cooking isn’t something that you’re just going to wake up one day, follow a recipe and it’s just going to be ta da everything’s perfect. There’s nuances of learning and you can follow the written recipe to the T and that’s one of the things I love about cookbooks, especially the one that we just did and it was tested so many times that you should be able to follow it exactly and get the results that it should yield.
At the same time, it is a learning process. I didn’t just automatically after cooking hundreds of meals with my mom leave and go out and start to become this wizard in the kitchen. I had burn some steaks, I had to overcook some things. I had to make a lot of mistakes until I really learned how to perfect certain dishes or come up with just kind of a base of knowledge.
That’s my biggest thing is whether or not you ever cook a recipe out of there, I just want to intrigue folks that it is something they can do. If it’s a lifelong learning process. We talked the other week about intellectual curiosity and it’s like this never ending search to be knowledgeable and cooking is one of those rare things that whether it’s different types of cuisine like smoking barbecue to the robin trend that’s going on to the perfect taco, to the perfect chili and hot dog.
You can constantly evolve and keep learning from those things and utilizing different ingredients. It’s just such a cool place that people often forget about because I think it’s just a necessity like I got to eat dinner. I want folks to find some joy in that and also realize that they’re improving themselves by actually cooking that dinner.
Brett McKay: Yeah, one of the things I love seeing on the Instagram, our Instagram feed is like when people share the food that they made inspired by your post.
Matt Moore: Yeah, absolutely.
Brett McKay: It’s like guys who, they’re like I never cooked before but I gave this a go and it was awesome. It was something they do with their … Like the noodle. You showed us how to make homemade noodles. Spaghetti. Yeah, I had so many, yeah people showing like pictures I was doing this with my daughter, I was doing this with my wife. That’s one of the great things about cooking at home is that it’s great way … It’s not just about the food, it’s about the camaraderie and the fellowship that goes along with it.
Matt Moore: Absolutely, being born and raised in the south, I think one of our greatest attributes is hospitality and generosity. My wife and I are expecting our first here later this week and I’ve already got a train of friends saying what can we bring you and on what day and they’re doing it by bringing you food.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Matt Moore: It’s just a really, really simple old tried and true tradition that we share throughout the United States. It’s not just something we do in the south. For me, I like to and as I often talk about I enjoy at the end of the day maybe having a glass of wine or a bourbon on the rocks. It’s my chance, when I cook it’s actually this great form of relaxation. One of my favorite things going back into history and into time, one of the problems when the assembly line came out at the old Ford plants was they found that workers were so disenfranchised in that process because they were basically just like a number on the blocks that were putting together a car and they never had the satisfaction of saying like I built that.
For me, cooking is one of those rare things that within 30 minutes you can start with all these raw ingredients and then 30 minutes later end up with this meal that not only you’re enjoying but that you’re providing to maybe your partner or to the rest of your family. It’s like man, I conceptualized, I executed, and I enjoyed this one thing all in this 30 minute period. I know that a lot of guys, especially young in your career you don’t feel like you’re making an impact. For me cooking is one of those things that allowed me to kind of justify to a certain extent, or find a bit of satisfaction in what I was doing that I think a lot of people were crying out for.
Brett McKay: That’s awesome. The book, “A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen” it’s all about southern cuisine and that’s sort of a risky topic to take on because I’m in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s kind of weird. I don’t know if I’m in the south or the Midwest or the west. We’ve been labeled all sorts of things, but I do know that southerners take their southern food extremely serious. If you mess it up they’ll just jump on you. How did you approach this book? Did you want to stay true to the tradition, did you add any innovations to it? What was your approach to the book as far as how you were going to present the recipes?
Matt Moore: You know man, I’ll be honest. I’m going to give you a shout out and a shout out to all your listeners and to all your readers. Writing on your site actually I think really prepped me to write a book like this. You and I have tackled some pretty tall subjects. The perfect chili to the perfect way to roast a chicken.
Brett McKay: The gumbo one.
Matt Moore:What’s that?
Brett McKay: The gumbo. You were nervous about that one. You were really nervous about that one.
Matt Moore: Yeah, yeah, whenever you say that you’re going to make the perfect gumbo it’s a tall order but that being said, I think what’s so awesome is that you create a community for people to not only share, like oh yeah, it’s exactly how I do it or you can never gumbo and put tomatoes in it. Or gumbo is only made this way. I’ve probably become a little bit desensitized to some of the comments. I’d say 99% of the time everything’s super favorable and everybody’s really happy to see us taking on these kinds of subjects but when it came to southern food.
I’ll tell you one of the greatest things that my editor told me in the process is I think very early on in the book I was trying to showcase everything that I knew about like a pork shoulder. It’s like I, growing up and being fortunate to travel throughout the south, I know how they do it in Texas versus North Carolina, versus Georgia, versus Florida and everything else. I was trying to like within 250 words like showcase everybody does it differently blah blah blah blah, make sure I covered all my basis.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Matt Moore: Then give my recipe. She was like you’re not even speaking in your own voice. Just say that this is the way you do it. If people have a problem with it then who cares? This is your book. This is your opportunity. People are going to realize they’re going to have some different changes and nuances to it but people really want to hear what your style is. That freed me up so so much to say like hey, this is my lifestyle, this is what my family experience has been, this is my south. I encourage you to take what I give you as a template or maybe add in a dash of this or that or the other. This is my opportunity to showcase to you what my take on southern cuisine has been, is right now, and will become in the future. I really owe a lot of credit to her in that collaboration to give me the confidence to speak in my own voice.
Brett McKay: One of the things that I love about your cookbook is that it’s really nice to look at. There’s a ton of cookbooks out there, right? Cookbooks are a dime a dozen. We have a lot in our kitchen. Most of them I don’t even look at but yours I just want to pick it up. I’ve had people come in because it’s been laying on our kitchen counter and they’re like this looks great. The pictures are fantastic. The other thing I love about it is that you weave in these stories that go along with the recipes.
Matt Moore: Right.
Brett McKay: One of my favorites was that you talk about a boar hunt that you went on.
Matt Moore: Yeah.
Brett McKay: Then you have a recipe for how to cook a boar. Tell us about that boar hunt. I mean, that’s really big. I don’t think a lot of people understand. Boar, like pigs are a pest here in the south. We got a ton of them here in Oklahoma. Yeah, tell us about the boar hunt.
Matt Moore: Man, again another of those random moments where life connections just work out to be this amazing experience. My wife was actually snowboarding out in Utah and she met a gentleman with her friend. I unfortunately was not there. His name’s Greg Arnette. If anybody’s ever worn or seen Arnette sunglasses this is the guy. The guy is worth quite a bit of money. You would actually never know it and she was telling him all about my story, what we were doing and he was like man Matt sounds like a cool guy and this is kind of that southern hospitality. He said I own this 8,000 acre ranch in Florida, you guys should come down one weekend. He’s a hunter. He loves to adventure and this would be a great place for you guys to do a photo shoot and just have a good time.
It was just one of those things that careful what you wish for bro we’re going to take you up on that offer. We did and we spent a whole three day weekend outside of his ranch, outside of Orlando, Florida. He also happens to be a helicopter pilot too so we basically had the greatest man week ever shooting bows and arrows, grilling every night, taking the fan boat out and all the while capturing this whole narrative of a really common ritual if you will. It happened to be a wild boar hunt but it could be a deer hunt or turkey hunting.
What we got out of it, not only did we have the opportunity to actually harvest a boar and create that recipe and create that story but it was an experience that will forever be ingrained as one of the greatest things I got to do from writing this book. Now I know that you’ll probably see this cool picture of me hanging off a helicopter.
Brett McKay: Yeah, you’re jumping out of a helicopter with aviator shades. It was pretty cool looking.
Matt Moore: Yeah, I don’t get to do that every Saturday. It was one of those cool moments for me. Even thought we were capturing it and it was a first time experience for me, and it might have been a bit over the top it was a cool way for me to say man what an experience, what a journey and it is something that people do. Especially in Texas. They actually fly in helicopters and shoot AR-57s.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Matt Moore: You’re actually flying into the land and then sitting there for three or four hours because the helicopter was so loud. What I was trying to capture there, more importantly for the book is adventure. Cooking is an adventure and it doesn’t matter if you are sitting in your kitchen or you’re going to the farmer’s market or you happen to be hanging out of a MD800 helicopter.
I’ve met so many guys that they can tell me the nuances, with pride about how they field dress a deer. The idea of them making an omelet in the morning doesn’t sound manly enough. I would kind of poke at them. I’ll be like actually you butchering and field dressing is just as cool and just as manly as you perfecting an omelet, which you and I have taken that subject on.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Matt Moore: That was really what we wanted to get out of the whole boar hunt.
Brett McKay: That’s really cool. For those of you who are interested there are other game recipes in here as well. You’ve also written some recipes for wild game on the site. You have like venison chili, which I think some people made and with great success. Yeah, the boar hunt is something I want to do. I got a friend here in town who does it with pit bulls and knives. That’s all they do.
Matt Moore: Oh my. You got me beat there man. I’ll have to see some pictures of that.
Brett McKay: We’ll see how it goes down. The pit bull just like grabs the boar for you … Then it waits there for you to get there and then you just take your knife and you just stab it in the heart and then it’s done.
Matt Moore: That sounds a little bit risky. Make sure you come up from behind.
Brett McKay: Yeah, for sure. Matt I always like to end these shows with some practical takeaways. Something a guy can do today to put into practice like what we’ve been talking about. Here’s a question. If there’s like one cooking project that any guy who’s never really cooked before and he’s like okay, on the way home I’m going to pick up some groceries and I’m going to try to make … Is there like one thing that you think any guy could do that isn’t lame like hot dogs, right? That involves a little bit of work and the payoff is awesome.
Matt Moore: It’s funny you ask that question. We talk about flying helicopters and one of the things that I’m working on right now is getting my pilots license which is an incredible humbling experience and I’ve got a guy here who’s in his late 50’s. He’s been a pilot for 25 years and he’s been a great resource for me. Part of that was the deal, he takes me out when I’m not with my flight instructor so I can actually relax. He’s like I’ve never learned how to cook, A but what I really, really, really want to get good at is cooking the perfect steak. He said so I’ll take you up as much as you want to practice your flying and give you experience but I want you to come over to my house and teach me how to cook several different cuts of steak in the perfect manner.
Brett McKay: Okay.
Matt Moore: What’s cool about that is it is so simple to cook a perfect steak. Okay. That would be my challenge and what it requires is just a couple different things. It’s going to require number one, and you and I talk a lot about this, a cast iron pan. I’m not recommending that your listeners go out and spend hundreds of dollars on cookware. This is something that you can pick up in your hardware store. You can probably pick it up at any grocery store across America. It’s going to cost you $25. Lodge cast iron. They season their skillets. They’re ready to go.
Then it comes to a cut of steak. I think we written everything from skirt steaks to fillets to flank steaks and everything between but steaks are meant to be cooked extremely hot and extremely fast. I like to use a bit of butter, which allows you to get a nice caramelization on the steak. I love to use just simply salt and pepper and in a cast iron pan over high heat get a great sear on the outside of the steak. Give it a nice flip. Whether it needs to go in the oven based on the thickness or not or if you’re cooking it on an outside grill with cast iron on the grill. You cook at your temperature whether it’s going to be rare, medium. Hopefully it doesn’t go beyond that point.
That’s one of my favorite, if you can master that and it’s such like the classic man dish but so many guys cook steaks so poorly and all it requires is a little bit of technique, the right piece of equipment being cast iron, salt and pepper, and if you can start there then I think you can start to evolve into a lot of different great dishes.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Is there a particular cut of steak that you think is pretty easy to work with?
Matt Moore: One of my favorite cuts, obviously people talk about your rib eye steak which I think is a chef’s choice steak. Fillet mignon doesn’t have enough fat but it’s super tender. I happen to be a really big skirt steak guy. For me, it’s one of those cuts that you can typically find, your butcher you can get him to cut it a bit thicker. That way when I say you don’t want something that’s super, super thin because then by the time you get a nice sear on it it’s almost going to be cooked all the way through. If you can get something that’s an inch, inch and a half thick it’s got enough fat so you get all that great flavor like you get from a rib eye but from the way that it’s cut, and when you serve it across the grain, it’s super, super tender. Tons of flavor.
When I love, especially when I was starting out, it’s affordable. Rather than paying $20 a pound for a cut of steak, you can buy skirt steak for less than $10 a pound anywhere in the country. It’s a really, really big payoff dish that I love to serve.
Brett McKay: Awesome. I just cooked skirt steak for lunch.
Matt Moore: Oh, look at you man. You’re eating better than I am.
Brett McKay: Yeah. You know what’s another one of my favorite cuts that I’ve just gotten into is chuck eye steak.
Matt Moore: Oh absolutely.
Brett McKay: My butcher calls it the poor man’s rib eye.
Matt Moore: Yeah. For sure.
Brett McKay: It’s delicious.
Matt Moore: My grand father was a butcher and we talk a lot about that in the book. That’s one of the things that he would reserve, the chuck eye and the skirt steak and all these other alternative cuts. That was his favorite. That’s what had the most flavor and if you knew how to prepare it in the right manner that’s the best way to do it. In fact I’ve been really fortunate, when we talk about skirt steak … I do a lot of work up in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
I do a lot of festivals there and the butcher, it’s a very, small, small town. If you ever have the opportunity, like going back in the 50s. Beautiful place. We cooked skirt steak fajitas and when I ordered it the butcher told the other guy that was working, organizing the festival that it was trash. It’s trash steak. We had people lined up on the street digging into this skirt steak and the butcher personally called me like three weeks later and he’s like I have to compliment you because I’ve never sold so much trash to my customers in my life. I sold out of skirt steak.
Brett McKay: That’s awesome.
Matt Moore: Everybody’s coming in demanding it. I think if you bring a little of awareness and get people over the learning curve that’s where you have a lot of fun. That’s kind of a bit of my mission is not always the pop cut but how do you make something really humble even better.
Brett McKay: That’s fantastic. Matt Moore this has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Matt Moore: You too Brett. I appreciate it as always.
Brett McKay: Our guest today was Matt Moore. He is the author of the book “A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen” You can find that on Amazon.com. Go pick it up. It’s a fantastic looking book. I’m not a really big fan of cookbooks because they all sort of look the same. This one is awesome because it weaves in stories. Great pictures and the recipes are super easy but they look awesome and they’re delicious. Check it out. Amazon.com. You can find out more information about his book at mattmoore.com.
Well that wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com. If you enjoy the show I would really appreciate it if you would give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever it is you use to listen to podcasts. That will help other people discover the podcast and that helps us out and one of the best compliments you can give is just recommend the podcast to your friends. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.