Smoked – Whiskey Brined Game Hens with Dad Chef Matt Mathiak

Dad Chef Matt knows his way around the kitchen for sure! He teaches us how to make Whiskey Brined Game Hens – smoked to perfection!

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Matt Mathiak
Executive Chef 


It all started when I was 14. I was a dishwasher at a restaurant that was open 24 hours. My mom had to talk to the manager and told him I could work anytime as many hours as he wanted to schedule me through the summer. I worked a lot of midnight to 6:00 am shifts. I found out real quick the waitresses really liked the cooks. So I got motivated, worked my way up to bus boy and started asking if I could cook. When school started I could only work weekends. One day the grill cook called off and I got to fill in. I LOVED THE CRAZY of getting slammed during breakfast and the girls started talking to me. I decided at that point kitchen life was for me.   I worked in restaurants my whole life and worked through college, until I got a degree in communication and started working in advertising. I still worked in restaurants on the weekend usually for free because it was fun. After 3 years in advertising my boss came up to me and said I was terrible at my job but I had a lot of heart. He told me to go follow my passion so I went to culinary school.   Now a days I work for a restaurant group as a chef/manager. I do a lot more managing then cooking now a days but my passion runs deep and enjoy developing new ideas, teaching, and hopefully inspiring the next generation of chefs and cooks. Cassie and I just moved from Milwaukee to Michigan so I could spend more time with my son. We recently got engaged and have been spending time with my son Ryder at our new apartment. We play A LOT of Uno and have been known to have a dance party here and there.

Q1 - What’s one tool in the kitchen you wish you had and why?

Being in apartments for the last few years I really had to scale back what I have in my kitchen. Space is always a factor. I would love a Viking gas range with 8 burners, a grill top and flat top combination. You asked why, and my answer is why not its cool.

Q2 - What’s your biggest meal disaster?

We recently got a new grill/smoker. I smoked a beef shoulder and decided to finish it in a cast iron pan with some braising liquid, vegetable, and potatoes. I lost track of time and the liquid boiled off and everything was stuck to the pan. It took to 3 days to burn it off and seasoned back to its former glory.

Q3 - What’s one thing you would like to learn how to make?

I really want to build a tandoori pit and make tandoori chicken in the ground.

Q4 - If there was one dish you would teach your kid to make, what would it be?

Pizza, my kid loves pizza, he also really likes tacos. So, taco pizza he would love it.

Q5 - What does it mean to you as a dad to cook for your family?

Cooking for the family is a new thing for me over the past 6 months. Typically, when I came home once a month to see my child we went out. Now that I am back, and I have time to cook with my new job it is awesome. I get to get up make breakfast most weekends, and then figure out dinner. Ryder likes it when I pull out a brownie or cake mix and helps me make it. First question he asks after dinner is typically what are we having for a snack later.