Matthew Wheelock has long been a part of the MMFS community, starting in the second grade in 2004 and graduating in 2015 as a member of the upper school’s second graduating class. He is currently finishing up his last class at the Culinary Institute of America, where he will graduate with his Associate’s degree after learning the technique of “savory cooking, pastries, and knife work.”
His original food journey began with an inquiry into his favorite subject, history, and his own family’s heritage. Matt comes from a long line of history buffs. Three of his uncles were textbook editors and as a child, he often watched his parents edit, research, and produce news stories for ABC News. Not only did these experiences educate him in the world of recorded and live television, he was also able to learn about the world around him and how history affects the future.
He recalls the beginning of his interest in food by saying, “My grandmother was originally from Budapest but she developed Alzheimer’s when I was young, so we never got to talk about food. I was always curious.” After researching dishes native to Budapest and its surrounding areas, Matt decided to make some of his own. This culinary history lesson satisfied Matt’s curiosities, albeit temporarily. Looking for his entrance into the food industry, Matt found his first internship at Country Hill BBQ, after he took the initiative to email Country Hill and ask to be its inaugural intern. There, he got his first taste of butchering and what it meant to work in a restaurant setting.
One of the highlights of Matt’s culinary journey was being featured on Teen Chopped on the Food Network. The opportunity started as an interesting conversation with a fellow MMFS student who was also interested in cooking. When she got the call to be on Teen Chopped but was too nervous to appear on camera, Matt’s experience with television studios came in handy and he was able to secure a spot on the show. Matt wowed the judges and although he did not win, he received high praise from the judges and was offered an internship with Chef Marcus Samuelsson. This experience encouraged him on his career path and instilled confidence in his work.
Matt’s most influential summer internship was inspired by a MMFS science teacher who suggested he contact Dickson’s Farmstand in the Chelsea Markets to see if they needed any assistance. He had noticed Matt’s handy skills with the scalpel in Biology and thought it might be a good fit. In remembering MMFS, Matt credits his biology teacher with “letting me dissect more than one frog because I wasn’t very good at Biology but that unit was my favorite.”
Matt plans to look for work in restaurants and butcher shops. His ultimate goal is to combine his love of history, the environment, and food to explore how the environment around us affects what we consume.