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Chef Spotlight: Matt Bolus

October 27, 2015

It’s ironic that The 404 Kitchen in Nashville was named simply after the building’s address because what Chef Matt Bolus is doing in the kitchen is anything but ordinary.

“I like to ask people what they are cooking in their kitchen’s at home,” said European trained Bolus. “I leave here and I go home and cook. I have added dishes to the menu here that were a hit at Sunday dinners with my family and friends. This can be a tough job, but it is my passion.”

Bolus keeps the ever-changing menu at The 404 fresh with a lean toward Italian but he doesn’t limit himself to one kind of cooking. Dishes like saffron ice cream, skillet cornbread with sour gum butter and sheepshead with aged Carolina gold rice have made his Kitchen a must-eat in Music City and what Southern Living Magazine called a “Best New Restaurant in the South” for 2014.

“When I was living in Charleston I would have said that was the great bounty,” said Bolus, recalling his days on the coast as Chef for FIG. “But moving here, I would say that 90% of what I want I can get within an hour radius. That wasn’t true at the beach. It’s hot and salty down there and it’s not easy to grow everything.”

While living by the sea no doubt has special benefits for a chef, Bolus has learned that fresh doesn’t mean everything in seafood preparation. “I apprenticed under a fourth generation fishmonger in London for a year and not every fish should be cut open right after it’s caught. Something like Dover sole needs to rest. Making seafood right depends on many things, the species, the storage, the catching, the prep.”

As for oysters, Bolus is a fan of pulling and eating them immediately. “We got them fresh off the boats (in Europe) and we’d shuck four or five a piece and eat them raw with tea for breakfast,” he said.

“An oyster is the celebration of nature’s perfection, sweet and salty, bright and rich, complexity and simplicity at the same time.”

Bolus is making a Swamp Party Po’ Boy for the Cook-Off competition. The dish features cajun aoli, crawfish tails, char-grilled pickled oysters and hot chicken spices.

Making food in a city full of famous faces and, uh hum, voices doesn’t stress out Bolus. “I actually had a couple of guests the other night, a successful producer and a real famous musician and we all sat around talking about different foods and meals we loved from different places we’ve been to, outside of Nashville, you know travelling, and I got some really good ideas. It was great.”

Try the Swamp Party Po’ Boy from Chef Bolus along with dishes from more than 60 award winning Chefs and eateries on Saturday, November 7.