16 Mar An Introduction to Chef Matt Downarowicz
As many of our guests know, our newest Executive Chef, Matt Downarowicz, will take over at the end of this month when Chef Frank Fejeran leaves to start his own food venture: ricewood. We sat down with these two hilarious chefs to talk about Matt, the future of the Ravens Club’s kitchen and, surprisingly, Young Jeezy.
TRC: Frank, why did you choose Matt to take over in the kitchen?
Chef Frank Fejeran: Matt’s been working at the Ravens Club for about eight or nine months. He reminds me a lot of what I was like—[smiling]— he’s definitely a little more calm. He understands food. He has the same style as TRC does—he has that same rustic edge—keeping food the way it’s supposed to be. Not fucking with shit too much—we just make sure it’s good. You do as much as you need to do to make the food better and nothing more, and Matt really gets that with animals, with veggies, with dishes. Anybody who is worried about Matt coming on as chef, or maybe that the food is going to change, they should know that 30% of the menu right now is already Matt’s and it has been for three months. Matt has already been an asset to the kitchen. He brings a lot to the table.
Chef Frank Fejeran: How do you feel about taking over at the Ravens Club?
Chef Matt Downarowicz: I’m really excited to take over in the kitchen, we have an awesome reputation for the food that we put out and I hope to maintain that reputation.
FF: What does being a chef entail for you? When you think about being a chef, what do you think of?
MD: I definitely like to be in the kitchen as much as possible; above all putting out great food to guests is what’s important. Also, keeping the staff happy and providing a positive work environment for our small team of cooks. It’s very important that all of the products we bring in are top-notch, local and sustainable whenever possible. At the end of the day it’s about putting out good food for people and making everyone happy.
FF: What is your draw to Ann Arbor?
MD: I moved here with my girlfriend back in May, she grew up here. I lived on the east coast my whole life and I thought it would be a nice change of scenery. Ann Arbor is a cool city. I like that it’s small, but there’s still plenty to do—lots of good places to eat and drink. Outside of the city, the country is absolutely beautiful.
FF: What excites you about TRC as a whole and what can our guests expect from the new menu?
MD: First of all, I really love the atmosphere of the whole place—the kitchen and the dining room. I came here to eat before I worked here and I had a fantastic experience. The style of the menu, the drinks, and the whiskey selection—it all just excites me, all things I like. I like the small plate format of the menu; I’m hoping to continue with that.
FF: What about the kind of food you’ll be cooking?
MD: I like that we don’t necessarily have a style that we’ve locked ourselves into, we can pretty much do whatever we want as long as it’s good. I plan to keep that going, I think it’s been working for us. Going forward, I am going to try and bring in more whole-animal utilization, putting my butchery skills to use.
FF: Okay—last, what is your favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor?
MD: Mani Osteria. Their pizza is the best. Enough said.
FF: Oh, yea. Hands down.
MD: Are we doing our favorite Young Jeezy quotes now?
FF: Wow. Okay, I’m gonna go with: “Patty cake, patty cake… microwave.” Another good one, that I think would be a great band name and a great cocktail name, would be: “That ain’t this and this ain’t that.”
MD: I’d say of the top five influences in my life and rap career, at least 3.5 of them are Young Jeezy…
[Laughter all around.]
FF: But, really, Matt fits the bill. He’s young. He’s got a good sense of food. He’s got a good sense of style. He knows what he wants to do with food and he knows how to do it. Everyone in the kitchen respects him.