Smile Politely

Chef Matt Zagorski and his utensils

Tomorrow at 9 a.m., Art Mart in Lincoln Square Village will be hopping like any other Saturday morning during Market season. But this particular day marks the beginning of something we hope will become a new tradition.

Art Mart will be enlisting in the help of Chef Matt Zagorski, a well-known pie chef who knows his way around the kitchen more than most people. his (fairly short) life as a chef has already led him to appearances on the Food Network, and has him hooked up with the Viking Company for a few jobs as well. We got a chance to ask him a few questions in advance of tomorrow’s debut at Art Mart.

Name: Matthew Zagorski

Age: 44

Consumed by: My family. They drive my whole existence. My wife is an angel and my 2 boys are great. Not far behind them are good ethnic cuisine and Comic Books. Batman is my favorite hero.

Years active: I have been working as a chef for the last 6 yrs.

Recent work: In April 2009, I took home a First and Second Place Ribbon at the National Pie Championships. In 2008 I was one a featured chef on a Food Network Challenge.

What made you partner up with Art Mart for this presentation: Art Mart is a great gourmet food/kitchen store and the owners are good folks who care about their community. If they sold comic books, they would be perfect in my eyes.

Is this the first live cooking demo you have done: No. I teach cooking classes all around the Chicago area and regularly work as a chef consultant to a variety of places. I am always cooking and talking in front of people.

If not, what do you think separates them from something like Food Network: You get to taste my food, ask questions and frequently see me make mistakes. I hope to not set anything on fire this weekend.

Where are you from originally: Bridgeview, Ill.

What are your thoughts on Champaign-Urbana: For me, most places that have a major university or college associated with them have a real positive energy. Everyone I have met has a very laid back approachability about them. I think I will have a better feel for the town after Saturday’s demos.

Favorite food: Pie and right now I am very big on duck.

Favorite beverage: I am a big water drinker but my favorite soda is Canfield’s 50/50 and my favorite drink is a Lime Rickey. I never developed a taste for beer but really enjoy Red Wine. I strongly dislike cow’s milk but do enjoy chocolate soy milk (my son has a dairy allergy so we drink soy milk).

Favorite pairing: M&M’s and Potato Chips. The salt on the chips and the flavor of the chocolate together are magic. I can’t stop myself once I get started.

Anything else: Many folks find it interesting that before going to culinary school I had a very successful and lucrative career as a corporate recruiter. I worked for a variety of firms for over 15 years and then when my wife was pregnant with my first son, I realized I felt unfulfilled professionally and knew that if I did not give cooking a try, I would regret it my whole life. So, I quit my job and began working as a personal chef the next week- and have never looked back. Sometimes dreams do come true.

Chef Zagorski will be at Art Mart Saturday June 27 from 9 a.m. to noon.

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