It’s time for a YouTube bender. If you haven’t seen Matty Matheson’s hilarious—yet totally followable—recipe videos for Vice Munchies, start here. The 290-pound completely tattooed Toronto chef shouts at the camera like your boss on speakerphone in metal band T-shirts, and makes everything from the perfect cheeseburger to lemon cheesecake meringue pie in his tiny apartment kitchen. He’s got this barking, big laugh that makes you love him, and he gives directions like your obscene older brother teaching you how to make lasagna that’s “guaranteed to get you laid.” He makes the Bon Appétit test kitchen videos look like Downton Abbey. There are cocaine references when measuring sugar. And I’m pretty sure he would horrify 100% of my aunts.
Matheson oversees five kitchens now, including Toronto’s Parts & Labour, P&L Burger, and Dog and Bear. He previously hosted Munchies’s Keep in Canada (this recipe for Cheeto-crusted mac ‘n’ cheese somehow summarizes the show best), while his new show, Dead Set on Life, premieres this week on Viceland.
There’s this other side to Matheson that the cameras don’t really see, the guy who partied so hard he had a heart attack at 29. But that’s not what the show is about, though it lingers beneath the surface as Matheson, 34, travels across Canada, often with his good friend Master Rang (a 50 year-old Vietnamese chef who was his former boss and…drug dealer) to meet people, experience new cultures, and cook with locals.
***If you’re sensitive to certain four-letter words, well, there’s strong language ahead.***
In the first episode of Dead Set on Life, you take Master Rang to eat your favorite buffalo chicken sub from a gas station in your hometown. Are you trying to…correct American stereotypes of Canada?
I don’t think I’m trying to correct anyone. Canada’s amazing! But it’s very different than the U.S. People think it’s a bunch of people living in igloos and shit. And I’m like, yeah, some people DO live in igloos. I think it’s going to show America even more stereotypes maybe.
There are different parts of Canada that are very amazing, very different cultures, and I’m just trying to show that, show Canada.
Did you watch Anthony Bourdain’s show to make sure you don’t repeat the formula?
I try not to watch anything, because I don’t want to rip anything off. I’m so afraid of that. I’ve seen maybe three episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. I think he’s amazing and he’s the best at what he does. I think Kitchen Confidential is phenomenal, and it’s untouchable.
It’s so tough to be original, to make something exciting, make something timeless and important and funny at the same time. I’m trying to make entertainment, I’m not trying to solve the world. I’m not trying to bring social justices into my show. My show is very much me having fun with people. I spent time on the reservation in Long Plains, and I wasn’t there to talk about crack and female abduction, and fucking horrible shit. I’m there to hang out at the powwow and experience the good stuff. I’m not trying to get at the dirt under the fingernails. Everything doesn’t always have to show the worst things. And that’s the thing that will be a breath of fresh air among the shows on Vice, with my show, I’m not trying to get under there and be like, “Everything’s horrible!” Yeah, everything IS horrible, everyone knows that.
In my favorite video (above) you say, “Food is about love. If you don’t love anybody, you’re dark and you suck, so just do something else.” What advice would you give to people who need to relax more in the kitchen?
I think that the best advice is not be afraid to fail, and to continue cooking forever. Why did somebody think that if they watch a video, they’re going to make it perfectly? That chef who wrote that recipe in that cookbook has been making that for fucking years.
People send me photos on Twitter and social media, and a lot of times that stuff looks disgusting. But they’re trying. I think that’s the coolest thing. And I like every single photo that people @ me on. I answer every single DM. Every single Facebook message, I answer personally. I’m talking in a language that people can understand. If I were talking insider baseball shit, while I was cooking, like how I talk to my chefs, then who the fuck understands that? I’m talking like I’m talking to my buddies. When my buddies are like, “How did you make that chili?” I’m like, “Oh I fucking cooked ground beef and put spices in it and cooked it.”
But what I think is cool is that people are cooking. People are making cheeseburgers, people are making pancakes. People are making lemon meringue pies! People are fucking making pâte brisée. That shit’s cool.
What are those fan messages like?
I get a lot of fat dudes telling me that they’re stoked I’m okay with my body issues. In a world where fucking body image is all you’re fucking worth, and it’s like, fuck that. Everyone’s fucking beautiful, everyone has potential. Everyone has passion. It’s about finding it in themselves. I get a lot of that kind of stuff, which is amazing.
I really hope people can find that self esteem in themselves. If they can find it by cooking a really good meal, from something that I showed them how to do, that’s super amazing. That’s better than any fucking thing. When I get these messages from these people and they’re just stoked. I made this thing for my boyfriend! Or “I didn’t get laid from your lasagna, and you said it’s guaranteed to get you laid!” Yo, that’s on you, homie.
It might be super cliche, but I’m making people feel good. I’m putting myself out there, and I’m 290 pounds. I’m a big fucking dude. And I don’t give a fuck. I don’t go to the gym. I don’t fucking eat juice. I don’t fucking cross fit. I don’t do that. I’m not a jock. I used to have green hair and wear nail polish and was like a punk, in a small town. I used to get called names. I don’t like jocks. I’m an outsider. That’s why I love when people reach out, it’s like fuck society, fuck that norm. You’re beautiful, you’re amazing, you’re strong, you’re intelligent. Who gives a fuck if you’re fucking fat and have zits. It’s a beautiful fucking thing.
Dead Set on Life premieres Thursday, July 7 at 10 p.m. EST on Viceland.