Rising Star Chef Matt Gallaher of Knox Mason - Biography

Knoxville, TN

February 2014

While growing up on a 170-acre farm, Matt Gallaher got secondhand industry experience through his mother’s small restaurants and catering operations. Even his grandfather, Dr. Thomas Gallaher, had a latent culinary impact on young Matt, cooking magnificent breakfasts and holiday feasts for the family. But being so connected to Southern cooking felt natural, not professional, to Gallaher, who worked for his mother but earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of Tennessee.

It wasn’t until Chef Holly Hambright saw Gallaher cooking at Lord Lindsey Catering that someone convinced him it was time to focus on food. Hambright took Gallaher in, treating his employment like an apprenticeship of sorts. Four years later, a professionally skillful Gallaher approached Blackberry Farm, where he worked for Chef John Fleer with Chef Joseph Lenn as his peer. He was hired as a line cook and eventually moved up to sous chef.

Departing Blackberry Farm, Gallaher began an unexpected four-plus year world tour cooking for music acts like Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Neil Young, The Eagles, and Kings of Leon. Leaving touring behind in 2011, Gallaher’s next client was no less famous: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. The position enabled Gallaher to stay in one place (after cooking in 14 countries) and reconnect with the land, planting gardens, and foraging. It’s his connection and deep understanding of Southern foodways that Gallaher, along with childhood friend David Rudder, brings to Knox Mason in downtown Knoxville, where his food and leadership earned him a 2014 StarChefs.com Rising Stars Chef Award.