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‘Super’ chef Matney helps NFL fight hunger

By Glenn Drohan
12:00AM / Thursday, January 29, 2004
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Eddie Matney, right, and Arizona Diamondback Luis Gonzalez at the Taste of the NFL Event last year (Submitted Photo).
North Adams native and former Stockbridge chef Eddie Matney has been an Arizona Cardinal fan for the past several years, but he’ll be rooting for New England in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Before that, he’s got some work to do. Matney will be among 31 chefs representing the teams of the National Football League at the 12th annual “Taste of the NFL” event at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Saturday night. The $400-per-plate fundraiser to combat hunger is billed as “The Super Bowl Party With a Purpose” and is expected to attract 3,000 people and to raise up to $750,000 for food banks throughout the country. It will be the fifth straight time that Matney has represented the Cardinals at the celebration. “I love it,” he said in a telephone interview from his Phoenix restaurant, “Eddie Matney’s” on Monday. “This event has raised millions for hunger relief over the last 11 years, and 80 percent of the money raised stays in the host city.” Matney has come a long way since graduating from Drury High School in 1978. He started out as a dishwasher in the late 1970s at the former 1896 House Restaurant (now The Hunt Club) in Williamstown, eventually becoming a cook there. A self-taught chef, he co-owned the successful Stockbridge Café in the early ’80s before moving to Phoenix and opening “Steamers” in 1986. After stints at KousKous and Eddie’s Grill, he and his wife and partner, Jennifer Blank-Matney, opened Eddie Matney’s in1998 in the heart of Phoenix’s Biltmore shopping district. The restaurant is rated as one of the best in Phoenix, and Matney has been named “Number One Chef in the Valley” for two consecutive years by Phoenix Magazine. In addition to hosting a weekly cooking segment on Arizona’s Channel 5 News, he is a columnist for Arizona Homes and Lifestyles, co-authored “Heartfelt Cuisine,” a quick and easy “heart healthy” cookbook, and has been featured in numerous publications, including Food and Wine, USA Today, Bon Appetit, Food Arts and Money Magazine. He teamed up with Poore Brothers Potato Chips to produce several seasonal flavors and distributes several sauces and dips to A.J.’s Fine Foods in Phoenix. Locally renowned for blending American and Mediterranean flavors — often with a kick — Matney is affectionately known in Phoenix as “the most colorful chef in town,” according to newspaper articles. His Web site, www.eddiematney’s.com , describes him as follows: “Eddie is a charismatic guy who works the room and schmoozes loyal customers who love him and his products as much as his Lebanese-inspired, all-over-the-map food.” Menu items at his restaurant range from toasted ravioli and “Mo 'Rockin Shrimp” to “Sumac Grilled Lamb Chops,” garlic-and cornmeal-toasted calamari, and the “East Meets West Seafood Medley” containing sesame-encrusted ahi and parmesan-encrusted sea bass. But true to his New England roots, Matney also serves Yankee pot roast and Boston cream pie. The Web site features evolving photos of Matney clowning with frying pans, including one of him playing a pan like a guitar. His Super Bowl dish will be a new creation that promises to live up to his reputation for creativity: “Pulled Brisket of Beef with Habanero-Cantaloupe Barbecue Sauce over Black Bean Cheese Cornbread.” Matney said he loves his career and lifestyle in Phoenix and doesn’t miss the Berkshires. “I miss my family — my mom and my cousins,” he said. “I try to go back at least once a year.” A good athlete, Matney played third base for the 1978 state championship Drury baseball team. But this weekend, he’ll be concentrating first on cooking and then on football. After Saturday night’s party, he will be going to the Big Game. His prediction for the winner: “I hope New England. It will be a low-scoring game. I’m guessing 21 to 17.” To learn more about the “Taste of the NFL” fundraiser, visit www.tasteofthenfl.com . Matney’s Super Bowl recipe Pulled Brisket with Habanero Cantaloupe BBQ Sauce Over Black Bean Cheese Cornbread One 8 lb. Brisket 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped 3 Tbl. Olive Oil Salt and Pepper to taste 16 oz. Cranberry Juice 12 oz. Veal Stock Brisket: 1) Rub brisket with olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. 2) In a roasting pan, sear beef and cover with cranberry juice and stock. 3) Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for two hours at 300?. Habanero Cantaloupe BBQ Sauce: 1 Tbl. Olive Oil 1 Habanero Chili 1 Cantaloupe, medium chopped 2 Garlic Cloves 1 Med. Red Onion, chopped 1 Cup Molasses 1 Cup Coca-cola 2 Cups Pureed Tomatoes 3 Tbl. Cilantro Juice from 2 Limes Cup Brown Sugar Salt and Pepper 1) Sauté garlic, onions and chili. 2) Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Black Bean Cheese Cornbread: 2 Cups Cornmeal 2 tsp. Baking Powder _ tsp. Baking Soda 2 Cups Buttermilk 2/3 Cup All Purpose Flour 1 tsp. Salt 3 Eggs _ Cup Jalapenos _ Cup Black Beans 1 Cup Monterrey Jack Cheese 1) Mix dry ingredients until well blended. 2) Add buttermilk and eggs, mix well. 3) Add jalapenos, black beans and cheese. 4) Pour into greased 9” pan. 5) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400?. Presentation 1) Pull brisket meat apart and place in a large mixing bowl. 2) Add BBQ sauce and allow meat to absorb the sauce and heat on low burner. 3) Place 1, 2” x 2” square of cornbread in the middle of plate. 4) Scoop 3 ounces of beef on cornbread. 5) Top with sweet potato shoestrings and enjoy!
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