Interview with Mathew Molloy of Meadhall

Mathew Molloy
Executive Chef of Meadhall
4 Cambridge Center
Cambridge MA 02142

Brief Bio I am a native of St. Louis, and was introduced to cooking early. Both of my grandmothers were exceptional cooks — some of my warmest memories originated cooking alongside them… the wonder of transformation when making a mayonnaise and the simplicity of kneading bread dough, then watching it rise in the oven. I studied history on the way to a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Missouri. Cooking along the way and studying under several nationally known chefs, my watershed cooking moment occurred during an extended stage at Le Bernardin in New York.My passion for French cuisine led me to a seven year stint, and position of Chef de Cuisine, at the James Beard Award-Nominated Michael Leviton’s restaurant Lumière, in Newton, MA. In July 2010, I took my first job as Executive Chef at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro in Boston. When the opportunity to open Meadhall, a restaurant that combines my love of local, seasonal ingredients, and craft beers, I jumped at the chance. My culinary style is simple and unpretentious, with a continuing emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and flavors in every dish that I create.

Why is the pairing of food & beer important to you? I find that beer often pairs better with food than the more traditional wine pairing. With the broad range of styles and excellent brewers focusing on small batch, quality ingredients and taking some risk on style, there are so many great flavor profiles to work with. I also enjoy the challenge of getting the foodies who normally drink wine to try a dish paired with beer as well as the uphill battle to get beer drinkers who respect quality in beer to also respect the quality in food and the pairing. With its somewhat humble connotation, the right beer pairing can transform even a simple dish into something sublime.

What got you started on pairing food & beer? I started to get into craft beers several years ago. For me, on a cooks salary, I was able to sample some really excellent craft beers, produced by local artisan brewers, much easier than say focusing on wine, which often carries with it a bit more mystery, as well as a higher price tag.

Who are the chefs you admire? The chefs I most admire on a national stage include Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert and Tom Collicchio. Local chefs I admire include Jason Bond and Michael Leviton.

What are some of your favorite pairings? Chocolate and Imperial Stouts. Locally caught Swordfish with a Farmhouse Saison or a Witbier. Amber Ale with housemade veal bratwurst.

Favorite style / beer to pair with? I like to use a range of styles to pair with food. For lighter dishes I tend to enjoy Saisons or Belgian Whites with the yeasty notes and subtle spicing…for heavier dishes a balanced IPA works best for me.

Favorite all time beer? I cannot possibly answer this question. For me it depends on the season and the whim. My favorite style is usually trending towards the Belgian Tripel style. Lately though, I have frequently been enjoying Schneider Aventinus, a wheat Doppelbock.

Feature dish in which you pair beer with food or use beer in preparing the dish? Currently on our menu we offer a baked to order soft pretzel with some house made stout mustard and a beer and Vermont cheddar fondue. We were using BBC’s Saint of Circumstance IPA to make the cheddar fondue. The combination of the mustard elements, the cheddar, and the smoky herbal nature of the beer was a homerun.

Thoughts on the future of food & beer in fine dining? I think this is truly a yet-to-be-discovered area (for many) that will only increase in popularity. More incredible craft beers are becoming available to the general public, and gaining in popularity with all different types of consumers. There is still a little bit of a mentality with the general public that food paired with beer should be restrained to your typical pub fare. I believe that with its great versatility and the interaction of flavors between the food and drink, beer can be paired with fine cuisine with more creativity than wine. As a chef who tries to feature small farm local ingredients in my menus as much as possible, the same principals of terroir can be applied to beer, given the widespread proliferation of craft brewers out there now.

Favorite restaurant in a city not your own? My favorite restaurant continues to be Gramercy Tavern in New York City. The food is outstanding, locally sourced, and approachable. The feel of the restaurant is a casual elegance that is very welcoming for a casual meal at the bar or an anniversary dinner in the dining room.

2c water
1 1/2 t yeast dry active
1T brown sugar
2t salt
2T melted butter
1pound 14 oz bread flour
Baking Soda Solution: 4 qt. water 3 oz (volume) baking soda 1 oz (volume)
kosher salt

Combine water, brown sugar and yeast in the mixing bowl. Allow yeast to bloom 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, and salt, in that order. Knead with a dough hook on low speed for 5-7 minutes until dough is elastic and supple. Allow to rise at room temperature (or under refrigeration overnight) until double in size.Punch down and scale fermented dough to 3 1/2 oz portions Roll into ropes. Go back to first rope and roll to 18 in. and shape into pretzel. Boil for one min on each side in baking soda this stage you can cool and refrigerate. When ready to bake brush with egg wash and season with coarse sea salt. Bake at 400 for 10 to 15 minuets

Beer and Cheddar Fondue
For the Bechemel:
4 c Milk
2 bay leaves
2 thick slices onion
4 scratches nutmeg
3 oz butter
12 T Flour

Bring the Milk, bay leaves, onion, and nutmeg up to a simmer. Set aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make a roux with the butter and flour. Strain Milk mixture into the roux. Bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper. Strain through the chinois.

For the Mornay:
Add 300g grated Cheddar, off the heat. Liason in 4 beaten egg yolks (beaten with 2 T Milk). Season this mixture with
1T dry mustard powder
1 T Dijon 3 T Worcestershire sauce
½ t cayenne
Strain through the chinois and chill rapidly. For the Fondue:The mornay will be very thick. Reheat with 1/3 part of Saint of Circumstance IPA. Reseason if necessary. Hold in a bain-marie or serve immediately.

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