Chef Matt Spector of JoLē - Biography

Napa, Napa

October 2011

Matt Spector prides himself on cooking honest, creative food with fresh ingredients—the same fare he offers at his Contemporary American restaurant JoLē, and the same food he grew up eating with his Eastern European Jewish family. Even after starting a successful culinary career and opening two celebrated restaurants, Spector claims the one meal he’d like to eat more than anything would be his grandfather’s Sunday onion and egg breakfast—“real food,” in his words.

It’s this perspective that took Spector from his first job as a deli boy in his uncle’s meat market through the kitchens of some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants, eventually landing him in the quaint town of Calistoga, where he and his wife opened JoLē in 2008. Taking full advantage of locally farmed ingredients, Spector serves elaborate small plates that reflect the various cultures and ethnicities he considers the backbone of modern American cuisine. His menu exudes sophistication and bold flavors, featuring dishes such as Smoked Veal Sweetbreads with Split Pea Soup and Citrus Marinated Octopus Salad.

Spector’s first restaurant, Matyson, which he also ran with his wife, was hailed by critics as one of Philadelphia’s hottest new eateries before the couple sold it to move out West in 2007. Before striking out on his own, Spector worked at Jake’s Restaurant, Georges Perrier's French restaurant, Brasserie Perrier, and Bruce Cooper's Novelty, all in Philadelphia. The Cherry Hill, NJ-native says every stop along the way contributed to making him the chef he is today.