Matt Wasson embraced the next chapter in his culinary journey, interview

Contestant Matt Wasson in the kitchen for the first time, as seen on Ciao House Season 1
Contestant Matt Wasson in the kitchen for the first time, as seen on Ciao House Season 1 /

As Food Network fans are captivated by the new culinary competition Ciao House, a few of the chefs might be familiar faces. Matt Wasson has had successful moments on food television, but he knew that there was more to accomplish on his culinary journey. During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Matt Wasson shared his thoughts on Ciao House, Italian food, and lessons learned through the experience.

Chef Matt previously appeared on Chopped. While that mystery basket is far different from the Ciao House experience, there is something about food television culinary competitions that are compelling for both the viewer and the chef.

When asked why he decided to return to a Food Network culinary competition, Chef Matt said, “After filming Chopped, my day to day business and cooking felt like something was missing. I missed that rush of a ticking clock, the pressure to deliver, and seeing if I can rise to any new challenge that was thrown at me. Naturally once I saw an Italian based competition, I instantly knew I was meant to be a part of it.”

Although Ciao House is about the chefs coming together as a team, Chef Matt helps home cooks discover their love of food and cooking through his business. Speaking to that culinary experience, he said, “I feel the challenge really isn’t actually teaching people. It comes down more to a person’s patience. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and some good recipes take time to make each ingredient shine and become harmonious to form one beautiful dish.”

Unfortunately, time is not always on everyone’s side during a Food Network culinary competition. The clock ticks and the pressure builds. There is no second chance or do over. In addition, the chefs had to live together. While the close quarter can create bonds, it can also create some tension.

Matt Wasson on Ciao House Food Network
Contestant Matt Wasson in the kitchen for the first time, as seen on Ciao House Season 1 /

Speaking to the situation, Chef Matt said, “Living and competing with fellow chefs definitely made for a greater challenge than I thought I would have to face. Once we shut our burners off and hung up our aprons, it was the next challenge of separating work from play. We all have different personalities, backgrounds, and lifestyles that we all had to work and understand them. Sure, at times patience was tested, but we were in Italy after all so nothing, a good wine and some cheese couldn’t fix.”

Part of the uniqueness of Ciao House is the locale. Many chefs appreciate that travel can influence their cooking. Chef Matt said, “The beauty of being able to travel has opened my eyes to see that food truly isn’t one dimensional. As you travel you begin to learn how certain ingredients were introduced to people, and how they influenced dishes. As well as those ingredients becoming the identity of an area. In realizing this, when I cook, I’m not preparing a recipe but telling a story.”

While there is a story on every plate, Chef Matt does have a favorite dish. He said, “my favorite dish to cook is pasta vongole (pasta with clams). It has such a soft spot in my heart and brings me back to great memories. When other kids wanted fast food or pizza for their birthday, pasta vongole was all I craved.”

On the other hand, there is a dish that he would prefer not to have on the table. He said, “one thing that I would never serve is any type of cold salad such as tuna salad, chicken salad etc. Even my fiancé sometimes craves only that, and she can’t even convince me to make that for her.”

While it does not seem likely that a cold salad will be part of the Ciao House competition, Food Network fans should watch new episodes each Sunday night at 9 p.m. to see Matt Wasson cook. His food story is just in the first couple of chapters, but there is a long, flavorful journey that will unfold.