Matt Lightner already has the résumé of a culinary veteran. Lightner graduated with high honors from Portland, Oregon’s Western Culinary Institute in 2001, and before he hit the global stage (including a month at Chef René Redzepi’s Noma), he commanded numerous kitchens up and down the West Coast. In 2006 Lightner became the chef de cuisine at L’Auberge in Del Mar,California, working alongside James Beard award-winning Chef Paul McCabe. He then worked for Chefs Phillippe Boulot and Francis Perrot in Portland and San Diego.
Insatiably curious about new food and cooking techniques, Lightner traveled to Spain in 2007 as a member of an exclusive group of 15 chefs from around the world chosen for the ICEX program. Lightner also participated in a study program with legendary chefs Ferran Adrià, Andoni Luis Aduriz, and Juan Mari Arzak. During his time in Spain, Lightner spent 18 months as part of the culinary team at Aduritz’s Mugaritz.
Returning to the States and an executive chef role at Castagna in Portland, Lightner transitioned his passion into a commitment to locally grown and foraged ingredients, earning him a spot on Food & Wine’s 2010 “Best New Chefs” list and a 2010 nomination for “Rising Star Chef” from the James Beard Foundation. Most recently, Lightner opened Atera in New York City, an 18-seat restaurant where a menu combines the chef’s sophisticated technique and Spanish revelations.