Everything Chef Matty Matheson Uses When Cooking With His Kids

“The Bear” actor and longtime chef, restauranteur and author breaks down the must-have products for teaching kids how to cook safely.
Chef Matty Matheson photographed by Aaron Wynia

Matty Matheson’s kids think he’s just a chef. To be fair, the restauranteur, actor, author, podcaster, TV/web series host and fashion designer has more jobs than your average bear (pun intended). Most recently recognized for his role as Neil Fak on Hulu’s hit drama “The Bear” and his latest restaurant, Prime Seafood Palace in Toronto, Ontario, Matheson cares a lot about food.

This is especially true when it comes to preparing it for his harshest critics: his children MacArthur (“Mac”), Rizzo and Ozzy, who are ages 6, 3 and 1.

“Most of the time I make food and they don’t even eat the fucking shit,” Matheson told HuffPost. “I always make them a plate, and I’m just like, ‘All I need you to do is try one bite and then tell me you don’t like it.’ You can’t just tell me you don’t like it without trying it. That’s not the way the world works.”

Though some chefs prefer to leave their work at the office (and are depicted doing so on “The Bear”), Matheson’s always cooked at home. “You know all those cliches of chefs coming home, even on the show, they get home and they eat a peanut butter-jam sandwich, smoke a cigarette, drink a Coca-Cola and pass out. I’ve definitely had nights like that, but genuinely, if I’m home, I cook at least one meal a day. We try to make it nice,” he said.

Matheson’s love for home cooking is clear from his published works, “A Cookbook” and “Home Style Cookery.” It’s also apparent from the full-hearted way he describes making meals with his family. In a notable shift from his boisterous online persona, Matheson is relaxed and earnest when talking about his kids and his wife, Trish Spencer.

“There’s so many sweet little moments,” he said of sharing the kitchen with his family. “You’re just cooking regularly, and you’re holding the baby, and your kid’s holding onto your hip trying to look, and there’s a kid sitting on the counter, and you’re making congee.”

He shared that gardening and cooking are great ways to teach little one’s independence and to discover new connections as a family. “Cooking can be a group thing; most things can be a group thing. But, also, it’s an individual thing as well,” he said. “You’re just learning every day. You’ve got three different kids, you’re dealing with three very different personalities, very different needs. There’s so many different relationships between these five people. We all have those little moments and there are things that they each want to do and things that they already are excited about.”

Yet, having six little hands in the kitchen calls for six times the safety measures — something Matheson says surprised him early on.

“I have to cook a lot different than I usually cook, when the kids are around. You have to be very mindful. There’s a lot more rules,” he said. “I don’t allow any toys on the ground in the kitchen. We try to keep it very minimal, just to keep everyone safe.”

“I want cooking to be a beautiful thing,” he added. “I want [my kids] to be able to have memories of the smells and all the cliche stuff.”

To get a sneak peek at his home kitchen, Matheson shares the stuff he uses when he’s cooking with his kids.

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Kids cut-resistant safety cooking gloves
Matheson loves these kids' safety gloves for when they're practicing chopping in the kitchen.

"Rizzo's... not even four, and she loves cutting up vegetables. She has these little pink gloves [that] look like winter gloves ... but you can't cut them. They're kids' chain mail gloves, kind of."

These gloves are highly elastic, lightweight and also come in blue.
8-piece safe plastic cooking knives for kids
"We [also] have those little plastic knives, so she can just work away on vegetables and make a little Rizzo salad. She chops up the cucumbers and tomatoes and green onions, and she just macerates everything and does whatever."

Matheson recommends this 8-piece safety knife set from Jovitec. The nylon serrated edges are safer for kiddos' hands, and the handles are easy to grip.
An adjustable kids standing platform and step stool with safety handrail
"Mac's a little older, so he can help me over on the stove and whatnot. I still get very scared every time I lift a pot of boiling water or I'm frying bacon. We have those little step stools that kids use to come up and look and cut and play. It's a little nerve-wracking at times, but you find the sweet spots every day with it."

Matheson uses this 35-inch kids step stoop with adjustable stairs and a safety rail. It can hold up to 150 pounds.
Anti-splash protective glasses
"I try to teach my kids how dangerous stoves and ovens [can be], how dangerous food can be with splattering and whatnot and the way you stir... You don't want to stir counterclockwise, it can make it splash more. You want to always stir in one direction."

To ensure little eyes stay safe when stirring or near the stove (and to help when cutting onions) Matheson recommends these anti-splash protective glasses.
A 9-pack of dishwasher-safe plastic cutting boards
"Mac is always like, 'What part of the animal is this?' 'What is beef?' 'What is pork?' 'What [are] all these things?' You can have those conversations about life and death and ... about eating and why do we eat meat, or why not."

For chopping meats and veggies — and setting the stage for some meaningful conversation about the circle of life — Matheson suggests these dishwasher-safe flexible plastic cutting boards that can be color-coded for different ingredients.

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