Culinard: Chef Mathew Dyer

Chef Matthew Dyer began his career at New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT. His love for baking began young, helping his mother bake pies and cakes for Holiday Inn Hotels.
After graduating Culinary School, Chef Dyer stayed at NECI as a Teaching Assistant under Chef Adrian Westrope, a former Pastry Chef for the Queen, where he was responsible for preparing all specialty cakes and wedding cakes for La Brioche Bakery. This is where love of pastry and cakes really took off. Chef Dyer worked as Executive Pastry Chef at Pitcher Inn, a Relais and Chateaux Property, and Bolton Valley Ski Resort, where he was in charge of Bailey’s, the fine dining restaurant.
Chef Dyer moved to Alabama to get out of the harsh Northeast Winters. Since moving to Alabama, Chef Dyer has worked at such establishments as danielgeorge, Tria Market, and Icon Restaurant. He also is Personal Chef for some notable figures in the Birmingham area.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary arts?

When I was 15, my mother remarried, and we moved to a new town. It was the first day of summer, and I had no friends, so I decided to get a job in hopes of making new friends. What ended up happening was that I fell in love with being in a professional kitchen. I ended up deciding to attend New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.

Is there an instructor from your own education that stands out in your memory?

Chef Adrian Westrope from NECI. He taught me so much about being a steward for our craft, and how being patient, yet demanding, can really help influence others.

What do you love most about being an educator with Culinard?

Of course, I enjoy the daily interaction with the students, seeing them grow, having that “AH HA” moment. But what I have really enjoyed the most is how I have grown as a chef. It has taught me a lot about who I am, and how, no matter what, every day is a day to learn something new.

Chef Mathew Dyer | Culinard Birmingham Campus

What’s a typical day at the Birmingham Culinard campus?

I usually arrive to the campus around 6:15AM, turn on the kitchen lights and get the ovens going. I make myself a Spark, a little jolt to keep me focused. Then students start arriving around 6:45, and I greet them while preparing the white board for lecture. Even though we have a lot of PowerPoints, I really enjoy writing notes on the board as I do a quick lecture. I do most of my class time in the kitchen. I do lecture demos. I find that when you stand up in the front of the class and talk, and talk, and talk, they really do not absorb as much. But when you go in to the kitchen, and show them how to do it, while lecturing, they really have a much better grasp on what you are teaching that day. Then we analyze all of the items we prepare, and clean up, wrap up, and go home. I stay around the campus for an hour or so after the students leave to get myself ready for the next day, and offer any tutoring that some students may need, if they stop by my office.

Best piece of advice you give your students:

“Burning is learning.” Students are so afraid of not doing things right the first time, they do not appreciate how much they can learn by their mistakes.

What is one of your proudest moments to date?

Being on Food Network Challenge, “Sugar Inventions” with Jared Danks.

How would you describe your cooking philosophy in five words or less?

Listen, Learn, Practice, Repeat.

What was the last dish you cooked at home?

My daughter Hollis and I made biscuits and waffles. We really love to do breakfast for dinner – eggs, bacon, biscuits, waffles and maple syrup, and some berries.

Fig Tart | Chef Mathew Dyer