Editor’s Note: This is episode one in a three episode Matty Hart series.
Matty Hart was a teenager when he stepped into the C&O kitchen for the first time. It’s 1996, and the C&O is the pinnacle of the profession. The restaurant boom in Charlottesville, Virginia has yet to happen, so Dave Simpson’s C&O was the hot spot on The Downtown Mall.
Matty just finished a short stint at Hot Tomatoes, a pizza joint on The UVa Corner that’s been long gone. Now, onto his second kitchen job, Matty walks into the C&O and immediately knows there’s something special about the place.
“There was fire everywhere in the kitchen!” Matty remembers. “Everyone is yelling. Johnny Cash is blaring.”
Matty loved it. He was hooked immediately. He was prepared to log the hours, learn the craft of cooking and climb the ladder from the dish pit to the line.
“C&O is where I really became interested in cooking and the restaurant business,” said Matty, who grew up in Waynesboro. “It was amazing good fortune. I got lucky and worked hard at the same time. It was just a fantastic place to fall into.”
“I never met anyone who was more passionate about food [than Dean],” Matty said. “Dean opened my eyes that [being passionate about food] was an actual thing. Dean was just so into everything. He was so passionate about everything, about the building of the flavors. It just blew me away.”
Matty said his time at C&O working under Dave Simpson and Executive Chef Thomas Bowles and alongside Dean Maupin had a tremendous impact on his career. He also recognizes Angelo Vangelopoulos, the executive chef and owner of the Ivy Inn Restaurant, as a mentor who helped shape his approach to cooking. Matty worked under Angelo at the Ivy Inn and at Wild Greens, which used to be located in the Peter Chang’s location in Barracks Road North.
“I thought Angelo was a rockstar just like Thomas and Dave,” Matty said. “Those guys were rockstars to me. I thought they were the coolest guys in the world. The fact that they were taking their time to teach me… It was amazing.”
In episode 1 of “The Matty Hart Story,” we spotlight Matty’s rise to prominence as one of the best chefs in Charlottesville, Virginia. Matty has helped turn The Local into one of the most profitable restaurants and catering outfits in Central Virginia. He’s been there since day one, too.
“The Matty Hart Story” on The I Love CVille Show is powered by Greenberry’s Coffee in Barracks Road Shopping Center. Greenberry’s is Charlottesville’s longest running coffee roaster. They’ve been serving Central Virginia since 1992.
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