Matthew Grimsley knew from an early age that he wanted to be a chef when he grew up.
“Mentally, it’s been with me for as long as I can remember. To the point that I’ve got the words ‘Line Chef’ tattooed on my hands,” he said. “I just knew from four years old what I was going to do and I’ve just pursued this.”
Grimsley will bring his 30 years of experience in the food industry to his new role as the head chef at the Hotel Pattee.
He got an early start in the industry, as he followed his mom into restaurants while she was a waitress in California.
“I think this is where she wanted me to go and I just fell in love with it at a really young age,” Grimsley said of his love of food.
He has worked for various restaurants and bars in California, Colorado, Arizona and New York before coming to Perry.
General Manager Aaron Lenz found he needed a new food and beverage director after he came on board at the end of February. Grimsley’s name immediately sprang to mind as the pair have worked together over the years.
“He just knows how to design a menu and knows how to work with food really well,” Lenz said.
He added that while Grimsley doesn’t have a specific food style, “He’s just able to look at a space and a demographic and go ‘this is what they’re currently eating and this is how we can make it even better.’”
Grimsley inspiration for the new Hotel Pattee menu came from the restaurant’s name, David’s Milwaukee Diner.
“That more homey, approachable kind of thing, but starting to scale things up a little bit,” he said of thinking what a diner is in his mind.
The second thing Grimsley wanted to do was bring a little bit of himself into the restaurant. He has run a number of bars while in Colorado. He wanted to take that type of fun atmosphere and infuse it into the hotel dining experience.
“My approach is really more of a gastropub thing by doing the sliders and the chef’s boards with the meats and cheeses that we’re doing in house,” Grimsley said.
He has also taken a slightly different approach with one of the hotel’s traditional dishes. He added a cherry gastrique to the traditional pork chop, along with apples and fingerling potatoes.
“I know the flavor profiles work. I was more worried about that I’m playing with something that’s been on this menu for a really long time,” he said.
Grimsley and Lenz have heard a lot of positive feedback from the new menu, which rolled out during the week of May 1.
“What I like the most is that everything is from scratch,” Lenz said. “Everything is made in our kitchen and we can take a lot of pride in the product that we put out.”
Grimsley plans to update the menu seasonally with items that are fresh and available. He would also like to take that fresh approach a little bit farther with adding a local component to the menu. He is looking to make some contacts with local food producers to add some locally grown products in the future.
As for now, Grimsley just wants to see guests enjoying their dining experience.
“I want people to go away full and happy,” he said.