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Meet Matthew Solano of Taste Buds in Downtown LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Solano.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2011, I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu and studied one year there while working two restaurant jobs as a busboy and prep cook. Between work and culinary school, I found that I really enjoyed working in the restaurant industry. Being in a kitchen and seeing firsthand what it’s like to be surrounded by delicious food and rowdy chefs was awesome, I was hooked! The rest is history, I’ve been cooking in the industry ever since climbing rank around LA and eventually moving to the Pacific Northwest for a couple of years.

My creativity and passion for food amplified when I returned home to LA back in 2017 and began working at Providence. Cooking in a two-Michelin star kitchen surrounded by LA’s best chefs, best produce, and best seafood on a daily basis was exhilarating. Executive Chef Michael Cimarusti and each Chef I’ve had the opportunity to work with at Providence, have shaped me into the Chef I am today.

Has it been a smooth road?
Taste Buds was something I juggled building while working in the kitchen. Cooking everyday especially at a two-Michelin star restaurant is exhausting. Long hours and low pay don’t necessarily provide room for entrepreneurship. For our first event, I was juggling all three! Yet somehow, I pulled off an eight-course Tasting Menu for 24 people, all inspired by a plant life cycle. This dinner was sponsored from ticket sales and money out of my own pocket. In hindsight, the size of the event was a bit too large to execute single handily, I couldn’t have done it without my team who pulled through in the end to make it work.

Since then, I’ve found new obstacles to conquer but the most difficult to date has been COVID-19. No one predicted the damage this virus would leave on our industry. Most of my coworkers including myself are out of work. We put in too many years of dedicated work into this industry for it to be taken away by this pandemic. It’s been a difficult year but with it came the opportunity to evolve Taste Buds. Now, being unemployed, my time and energy is fully committed to Taste Buds and what’s to come of it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Taste Buds – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Taste Buds began as a simple pop-up restaurant that focused on seasonal ingredients and collaborations with artists to bring our guests a unique food experience outside of traditional restaurant establishments. We launched in 2019 with two art-focused private dinners for some of our close relatives and friends. It started off as a way to express our creativity with food outside of work and bring our community together.

In 2020, Taste Buds has shifted slightly from its original plan and focuses on building our communities stronger through limited-quantity “Curbside Drops”. These drops raise both money and awareness for causes that are important to us. Along with fundraiser campaigns, we also share personal recipes and creative content on our website and Instagram.

What makes Taste Buds content so unique is our focus on creating “food nostalgia” through the lens of 35mm film. Being born and raised in Los Angeles in the early 90’s, our food content is influenced by memories from our childhoods, captured through nostalgic mediums, such as film cameras.

Taste Buds’ menu blends the best seasonal produce California has to offer through conceptual recipes. Although Taste Buds is currently digital and feeds more eyes than stomachs these days, we hope we can have you around our table soon and cook up some nostalgic memories for you to share.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
“To live and die in LA!” Los Angeles is home, I was born and raised here. There are many cities in the world I haven’t experienced yet but regardless, LA will forever be home.

What I dislike about LA is how quickly food trends come and go. When a new restaurant opens, everyone goes to get their Instagram pictures and then it’s on to the next one. Taste Buds uses this to our advantage by constantly evolving our seasonal menu to be an exclusive “menu drop.” We create our own trends and conceptual recipes for our guests that season and then we’re on to new ideas and ingredients for the next menu to come. It’s an open canvas of creativity in the kitchen that we get from not being attached to one particular product.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @mmmtastebuds

Image Credit:

Matthew Solano, Andrea Jaramillo

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