'There is a beautiful life out there for everyone': Loud-mouth chef talks vulnerability and authenticity

Matty Matheson wears many hats — celebrity chef, internet personality, cookbook author and TV host — but the role he's been most proud of over the past six years is husband and dad. 

Matheson, 37, worked as a chef in Toronto's culinary scene, eventually becoming executive chef at popular Parkdale restaurant Parts & Labour, which has since closed.

He also started filming and posting videos online, where his openness and candour — especially concerning his past drug use — endeared him to viewers who couldn't get enough of the heavily tattooed, loud, down-to-earth chef. He worked on the web series Keep it Canada, and appeared on VICE's Munchies.

In 2018, he released his first cookbook, Matty Matheson: A Cookbook, and released a new web series, Just a Dash, in October. 

Matheson is in Vancouver for a stop on his speaking tour, called the "Happy Vulnerable Tasty Sadness Happy Tour," and spoke with Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC's On The Coast, in advance of his Saturday show. 

On gratitude

Matheson says part of the reason he's known for his relentless positivity and exuberance is because he is well acquainted with the "dark side."

"I'm just aware of how dark the world is, and how dark humans can be," he said. "Six years ago, I was a selfish, you know, drug-addict chef … I was still a sweet, happy, funny guy, but I was a mess."

Matheson says he got a second chance through the hard work of quitting drugs — something that allowed him to eventually build a home and family.

"If you can get yourself together, there is a beautiful life out there for everyone, truly."

On staying authentic

Matheson's esthetic is far from that of the elite culinary world. He's often in a regular kitchen, making straightforward dishes. 

"I literally started from a one-bedroom apartment, making [a] cheeseburger," he said. 

He says he never intended to be a television or internet star — "[it] was like just me and my friends making stupid videos with Vice" — but he's grateful for how this journey has let him provide for his family.

"No one's asking me to be anything but myself ... there isn't like a lot of big special fake team around me like telling me what to do," he said.

"I think that people can really identify with that."

On good questions 

Matheson describes his speaking tour, which makes a stop at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom Saturday, as a spontaneous, free-flowing, spoken-word event and a chance for him to get up close and personal with his fans. 

"I'm going to go out and connect with people," he said. "I'm just gonna be vulnerable."

But there is one thing he wants his fans to do: ask good questions.

"I'll be like, legitimately, ask me anything you want. [They'll ask] if you like cooking with olive oil or canola oil — I'm like that's what you want to ask me?" Matheson said, laughing.

"Like, what are these questions, you guys?"

Listen to the full interview between Matty Matheson and CBC's Gloria Macarenko: