Chef Spotlight: Matt K. (meatthecook)
When Matt Krull’s first marriage began to unravel in his early twenties, he joined the Marine Corps and came out the other side “forged through fire.” His journey into cooking started much later in life with a love for feeding his family, and has turned into a passion for sharing love and positivity with his followers. He sat down with Dalstrong to talk about heartbreak, spirituality, and why he’s driven by the creative process.
You proudly describe yourself as a “former Marine” on your social profile. How did your experience in the Marine Corps define you?
When I went into the marines I was older, about 24. A set of personal circumstances started that journey. I was going through a divorce, God led me down that path. It was mentally challenging. However I felt like if I could make it through divorce and the Marines, I can make it through anything. I made it through the marines and a challenging divorce. It’s all made me a better person and a better leader. It’s all given me the perspective that no matter how bad things are, they can always be worse. My experience in the Marine Corps taught me how to better value myself and others. I value everything that God has blessed me with. And while those events were a pivotal point in my life, it only helped me become stronger as a person.
What are your driving philosophies about cooking?
I got into cooking several years ago, but didn’t really think about it from a content perspective. My wife worked full time, she didn’t have the bandwidth to do it all. I started cooking to contribute to my family. The creative process, creating new dishes, is what drives me. I like doing something different, which may seem simple to some, but I like making it different and unique. I just love the opportunity to do different things and share it. I originally came to Instagram to connect with some of my family and friends. Once I started and saw all these people posting food, I started sharing with friends and family. I enjoy learning and seeing what others are doing (not just with cooking). I feel like social media should be a “give and take” relationship to share your journey with others. It’s my fun time, distracts me from normal day hassles. I only want to be involved in what’s positive. I just come here to share and learn.
Do you have a favorite recipe or specialty?
No, just look at my feed. I’m all over the place. Smoked beef ribs, Italian, chilean sea bass, steak, chicken, really any food. I don’t prefer one style or dish. I love mixing it up. Some may say my feed is meat-focused, while I do share a lot of meat-friendly meals I always strive to do something different. I like to take any protein, search recipes, and take ideas from a variety of places.
What’s your best cooking hack or advice?
Having things, ingredients prepped in advance. It makes the whole process so much easier. If it’s a long smoke, it’s not as much of an issue. But like with the grouper I posted, I had a homemade sauce with it that I had to make ahead of time. Whatever you’re making, do as much advance prep as you can so you can focus on the main cook. I work full time, so when I get home I don’t have a lot of time. I’ve got to be on my game. Kids have schoolwork, my wife has her job and family responsibilities. Being strategic makes cooking so much easier.
What are your passions beyond cooking?
Jesus Christ and God. My spiritual path. Being the best I can in whatever I’m doing, being a leader at home and at work. I’m kind of boring, no real hobbies beyond cooking and occasionally building some things. I enjoy watching college sports (basketball and football). Cooking is really my creative outlet, and then sharing the content that spins out from there.
Who are your cooking heroes?
Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray, Gordon Ramsey — I love watching them, they’re great at their craft. But I honestly get more inspiration from regular people that I see on social media. I want to be able to produce equal or better content that they do — being competitive in a fun way. I always try to learn what I can from others. That’s my drive. The pros get paid and have a lot of production help. But it’s just me on Instagram. I’m my own videographer, director, and editor. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work that not everyone recognizes. At the end of the day, it’s just me producing the best content I can to share with others.
Is there a spice or ingredient you secretly hate?
Believe it or not, I don’t use a lot of salt. I don’t hate it, but I don’t use it very much. I love specialty salts, but not regular salt. I don’t know why, guess I’m more of a pepper guy. People can overdo it with salt, in my opinion.
What are the three things every chef needs?
Good, sharp cutlery. Dalstrong has excellent quality. You have to have that for success with prepping and finishing.
Quality cookware. Bad cookware can make a dish go south. It’s happened to me more than I’d like to admit. I’m kind of frugal, so I’ve purchased poor quality products in the past to save a buck. I’ve learned my lesson there.
A wide variety of spices. Because I'm always trying to create a unique flavor profile, I need a wide variety so I like to have a little bit of everything.
Is there one kitchen tool you can’t live without?
Yes, my newest knife: Banshee from Dalstrong’s Phantom series. You can just feel the weight. I also love everything from the Shogun series. Some knives make you work hard, and that’s not how it should be. You shouldn’t be trying to make it work for you, not doing what you need it to do. I’ve never had an issue with Dalstrong. The handles are strong, they’re super durable knives. I even dropped a couple a few times and they’re fine. I don’t worry about the knife, just try to avoid cutting myself! Their cutlery is far superior to any of my other knives, and I enjoy using them.
What's the dish that everyone screws up?
I’ve seen people screw up steaks. It happens more often than not. Steak should be easy. There are plenty of videos on it. It’s not difficult but I think people sometimes overthink it. For example, skirt steak is so easy: three minutes per side, rest 5-6 minutes, then slice it against the grain. I have seen people not allow it to rest after cooking (which dries it out). Or the temp is too low, and they don’t cut against the grain. It’s not hard. And sometimes people use too much salt!
If you could cook a meal for one person (not a friend or family member), who would it be?
Bill Self, the head coach for Kansas basketball. The assistant coach follows me now! I congratulated him on getting a new grill, and he followed me back. I’d love to show him what I can do, and then I could ask him about his coaching philosophy, his leadership style, and how he coaches up his players. It would be cool to do an all-day thing. I’ve always been a big fan.
What would your last meal be?
I’d have to go back to smoked beef ribs. It’s a lengthy process, I’d take the time to do it right. It's done in moderation, it’s a slow process. And then I’d enjoy perfectly cooked ribs. I’d use my best technique and enjoy every bit of it. And I’d like to share it with the people I love.