CHEF, AUTHOR, ENTREPRENEUR
“Food is the great unifier. It promotes communication, enriches relationships and drives conversation. While we may not all have access to it- we all need it and so too, each other. And so cooking, is the key to the human experience- the window to our souls.”
Growing up in a New England family who embraced the culture of food, Jennings garnered a great affection for authentic culinary experiences throughout his youth. From tending his parents’ elaborate vegetable gardens and fishing for Bluefish and Striped Bass on the Cape, to making potpie from scratch on Sunday nights in the coal-fired oven, Matt’s upbringing and surroundings have left an indelible imprint on the sensibility of his cuisine.
Matt has received four consecutive James Beard Foundation Award nominations for Best Chef: Northeast, three Cochon 555 wins, and a spot on Food & Wine’s “40 Under 40 Big Thinkers In America” list. A Boston native and graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, he started his career in notable American and European kitchens before leading the specialty sourcing program at Cowgirl Creamery and Tomales Bay Foods (San Francisco) and Formaggio Kitchen (Cambridge, MA), where he met his wife, Kate Jennings.
In 2002, the pair opened Farmstead, an artisan food and cheese shop in Providence, RI, always knowing that they would someday return home. In 2006, Jennings celebrated the opening of Farmstead’s adjacent bistro, which received a decade of national acclaim. Jennings closed Farmstead in June 2014, returning to his native Boston to open Townsman, a New England brasserie, in January 2015. The restaurant paid homage to Jennings’ deep roots in the area, showcasing his commitment to locality and love of the Northeast with dishes grounded in the nostalgia of his youth, with a newfound focus on the lively and inventive. Matt sold Townsman in the summer of 2018 to pursue new culinary endeavors. While open, Townsman won many national awards including Food & Wine’s Best New Restaurant in 2016.
Matt has authored and been featured in national and international publications and has been on The Food Network, The Travel Channel and PBS Television Programming. His award winning and James Beard Foundation and IACP nominated book, ‘Homegrown, Cooking From My New England Roots’, remains a national best seller and ushered in Jennings’ contributions to the world of celebrated cookbooks.
He currently lives outside of Burlinton, Vermont on a small farm with his wife Kate (a talented Pastry Chef), two sons Sawyer and Coleman and Blue Tick Coonhound, Hank.