Making everything from scratch is second nature to Matt Tinder, who grew up cooking alongside his mother in Kauai, Hawaii, preparing foods such as tofu and soymilk. A soccer scholarship brought Tinder to Oregon’s George Fox University, but it was when he started working as a short order cook that he found his true calling.
Returning to Hawaii to tackle a position in the Tri-Star and Jas Restaurant Group, Tinder worked under Executive Chef George Gomez, Jr., whom he considers his first mentor. During his four years with the group Tinder traveled all over the country and worked with countless talented chefs, learning and furthering his skills. Back on the mainland at San Francisco’s Campton Place in San Francisco, Tinder gained his first real exposure to pastry working under Boris Portnoy. Tinder learned the skills needed to succeed and stepped into the pastry chef position in 2008. While at Campton, he came to the attention of 2009 Napa-Sonoma Rising Star Chef Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood. Tinder joined Kostow’s team from 2009 to 2010, during which time the restaurant gained a third Michelin Star.
Moving back to San Francisco and into a position at Saison in fall 2010, Tinder once again contributed to earning another Michelin Star for his restaurant. In November 2011, he undertook his current position, working for Chef Daniel Patterson at Coi. He has greatly expanded Coi’s pastry program, taking on production of breads, butters, crème fraîche, tofu, and soymilk, and offering a five-course dessert tasting.
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About: Share our Strength aims to end childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children receive the healthy food
Interview with 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Chef Matt Tinder
Katherine Sacks: What brought you to Coi?
Matt Tinder: I took a job with Christopher [Kostow] and did Meadowood. Meadowood was awesome, I was fishing a lot and like living in Napa, but one year was enough. I’m originally from Hawaii; being from a rural place I can go rural, but I wanted to come back to the city. I felt like I wanted to go more corporate, felt like I got bored after awhile. Here I get to do different styles, it keeps me occupied.
KS: How much do you affect the pastry programs at Daniel Patterson’s other restaurants?
MT: It comes and goes with the season and the chef. Sometimes the chefs, like Haven, choose more of their own desserts and I'll help do the bread programs. It could be as little as consulting and as much as they fire a chef and they get a new chef and I'm on support. It’s all about matching the chef’s food.
KS: What has been the most challenging thing you’ve done?
MT: Leaving Meadowood was my hardest decision. Anytime I leave a place I feel like it’s a hard decision, it has more to do with at building something and then leaving it behind. It's nice when someone comes behind you and pushes what you did forward.
KS: What are you most proud of?
MT: I guess I am proud that I have worked hard and gotten to a place where I have worked and get to work and be friends with some of the best guys in the world or the best in my field.
KS: What are the three elements of pastry success?
MT: Enjoying failure, I enjoy throwing it away, I enjoy knowing the next time it will be better. Humility, knowing that people come to eat food and steak. Being a team player. Being in it for the long haul; it takes so long to get anywhere near being a master of this craft.
KS: Where will we find you in five years?
MT: Eventually I want my own place. I would love to have a bakery. I'm happy here, but I'll probably be working on my own space by then.