Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Cory.
Matthew, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been attracted to BBQ. Grilling meat- the smoky aroma, the variety of styles, watching fire do its dance has always appealed to my senses. My mom lived on the central coast where I have introduced to Santa Maria-style “pit grills.” As a boy at cookouts, you could find me over by the grill waiting for the first pieces of sausage to be cut. My bass teacher in college really knew his way around the grill. In addition to the acoustic bass, he taught me invaluable grilling lessons like less is more and the importance of patience.
Living in Albuquerque is where I gained an appreciation and affinity for Green Chile and its many forms, sauces, glazes, powders, etc., in New Mexico they put chiles on everything! I learned how to appreciate spicy flavors and cooking with chiles. Green Chile cheeseburgers, stuffed sopapillas, breakfast burritos smothered in green Chile, Carne adovada with red chile- for me these foods and the Chiles in them made food so much more interesting. Living in New Mexico really had a huge impact on my palette.
Originally from South Pasadena, I came back home continuing musical studies at UCLA. At parties, I was the guy who would show up with meat and make use of the grill in the backyard. I even started carrying my own set of knives so serving wasn’t such a hassle. Dull knives are the worst! I got a trailer and started bringing my own grill. Using oak and a dry run marinade is a real game-changer.
Gigging around Los Angeles in traffic lacks the appeal driving around New Mexico had given me. When my editor brother asked me if I could feed a crew in post-production on the “stage” I jumped at the chance. Hunting craigslist for hotel pans and food boxes, developing menus, the rush of the clock, literally out of the frying pan into the fire. I realized that catering worked for me. Oddly enough I realized everything I learned on my journey for a doctorate translates directly to food. Playing in time, the importance of sound, less is more, take time and look at the view, all these concepts and ideas play themselves right into the food. Cory’s kitchen has been a direct result of all of this.
I moved to Atwater Village from the Westside in 2009. Back then there was a great southern style BBQ at the farmers market called Big Mistah’s where you could get a great Texas-style brisket. Eventually, they stopped coming to the market and there was a giant hole in the market for me. Santa Maria-style BBQ is different yet similar to Texas-style BBQ having many of the same ingredients of beef, oak, salt & pepper. Getting to know the community of the market, the “bartering” trade, stepping on the toes of the Tamale guy, getting the approval from Peter the fish taco vendor that my homemade tortillas passed the test, as well as learning from many mistakes that have been made along the way has been a wonderful experience. One that connects me to this community and makes me proud to do all the hard work necessary to pull off a weekly pop up restaurant in our community.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m not sure if I know what a smooth road is. It seems as if there are daily bumps and struggles. It usually has nothing to do with the food. Running a business does not come naturally for me. At times the deadlines, licenses, insurance, taxes can all be a bit overwhelming. Finding employees as well as customers to feed can be equally humbling. Finding time to prepare all the food for the market can also be an interesting juggling act. At the end of the day seeing a customer with that surprised look of disbelief who can’t believe how good the food is makes all the work worth it.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Cory’s Kitchen is a full-service catering company inspired by Santa Maria BBQ and New Mexican cuisines. You can find us on Sundays at the Atwater Village Farmers Market as well as the occasional pop up around town. We are known for what I like to think of as “California Scratch Cooking.”All of our sauces, tortillas, beans, pico de gallo, Green Chile, cookies, etc., are all made from fresh ingredients. Our meat is dry rub marinated for 24 hours and burgers are made to order. I like to think that our food really does stand on its own in our town of Los Angeles for that matter Southern California. It’s very hard to find this style of BBQ south of point conception.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
In catering, opportunities are thrown in your direction and you have to jump and grab them. No is just not an option. Sometimes, these opportunities can seem insurmountable and you are certain there is going to be a disaster. One weekend I was responsible for the Farmer’s market as well as a wedding and a large backyard event which took every resource I had at my disposal. Even then I was not sure it would be possible.
I was careful to make lists and follow them to the letter. In the end it all worked out fine. Driving home that Sunday night following that weekend I experienced a new level of exhaustion. Different in that the exhaustion is mixed with satisfaction and you suddenly realize anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Corny as it may sound, we’ve all heard it a million times, it’s a very special, proud moment when you realize it’s true.
- Tri-tip and Chicken plates – 15 dollars
- Tri-tip Sandwiches – 11 dollars
- Green Chile Cheeseburgers and NM Red Chile mulitas – 1o dollars
- Veggie & Tri-tip Breakfast Tacos – 3-4 dollars
- Eggs, Breakfast Potatoes, Chilaquiles, French Toast – 8-10 dollars
- Phone: (323)691-5357
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @corys_kitchen