Sign up for E-News

COOKS AT HOME: Matthew McLendon

Matthew McLendon

BY SARA MOONE
PHOTOS BY PETER ACKER

Matthew McLendon, the associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Ringling Museum, says he learned to cook for the same reason a lot of folks did: To feed himself in college once he left behind his parents’ dinner table. But he gained a certain edge while studying abroad in Italy—by observing how it was done in the restaurants.

“There was no concept of preservatives at that time,” McLendon says, “and it was my first experience of eating truly fresh food all day, every day. Shopping not for the week, but for the meal. And of course, how do you not love Italian food?”

The purity of fresh ingredients prepared in simple combinations showcasing their quality and flavor inspired McLendon to experiment in the kitchen himself.

“That was hugely influential, because it taught me that cookbooks are very necessary and important, but they’re reference books,” he says. “I will follow a recipe the first few times, but after that I think you just have to have the freedom of improvisation and creativity.”

These days, with his work at the museum, McLendon admits that quality time in the kitchen can be hard to come by.

“When I have the luxury to spend an entire day in the kitchen I’m very happy, but that’s a rare luxury,” he says. He also confesses that he’s terrible at cooking for one—so when he does step in front of a stove, he makes the most out of that happy place by cooking for others.

“It’s a real expression of caring, and of interest in others,” he explains. “I guess curating for me is ultimately about interest in others, and about sharing. I always think of curating as the ultimate show-and-tell. . . . I guess cooking is the same way—it’s sharing, and that’s what I ultimately love about it.” McLendon makes another connection between his passions for the culinary and visual arts:

“The strongest thing I think you could learn as a cook, and the strongest thing I think you can learn as a curator . . . is editing. Cooking is an editorial process: I made it this way this time; this worked, this didn’t work,” he describes. “Curating is much the same way. I start out with an overall plan, and then carrying it through to exhibition is a process of taking away and editing. . . . Sometimes more is more, but frequently it’s not.”

RECIPE

Boursin Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Prosciutto

Comments are closed.

Facebook

Twitter

Google Plus

Follow Me on Pinterest
  • This Braised Pork Belly Lo Mein is served nightly at @indigenouschef. Click here to read about the revolutionary Niman Ranch, where Chef Steve Phelps sources the pork in this recipe: http://ediblesarasota.com/online-magazine/winter-2015/edible-profile-niman-ranch/ [Photo by Peter Acker]

    Pinned: 19 Feb 2015
  • Spice-Rubbed Venison Tenderloin with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes. This sumptuous dinner was shared with our COOKS issue by the Wynne family, who live for the home-cooked menu. [Photo by @katbrassphoto]

    Pinned: 19 Feb 2015
  • We call this "Day After Thanksgiving Salad." The Hyatt's executive chef whipped up this recipe to serve to visitors at the Sprout Mobile Farm Market. Sprout is a food truck operated by All Faiths Food Bank that brings donations of produce to communities that struggle to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Read about Sprout here: http://ediblesarasota.com/online-magazine/winter-2015/giving-back-you-gotta-have-faith/

    Pinned: 13 Feb 2015
  • This recipe for Spiced Squash Soup is courtesy of the Working Class Foodies Cookbook by Rebecca Lando. We featured Rebecca's mom, Ruth, as one of our "Cooks at Home" this year. [Photo by @jenpenpics]

    Pinned: 13 Feb 2015
  • If you've ever been curious about cooking and eating rabbit, here's the recipe for you. Look up local homesteaders Tim and Chelsea Clarkson at @groveladderfarm for your source of sustainably-raised rabbit meat. [Photo by @katbrassphoto]

    Pinned: 5 Feb 2015
  • Johnette Isham from @realbradenton recommends you source fresh ingredients for this healthy recipe from the Bradenton Farmers Market!

    Pinned: 5 Feb 2015
  • This spicy recipe for Roasted Salmon comes courtesy of Johnette Isham, executive director of @realbradenton. Johnette gets her filets fresh from Anna D's Seafood at the the Bradenton Farmers Market. [Photo by @katbrassphoto]

    Pinned: 2 Feb 2015
  • In a toast to our 5th birthday, we'd like to serve up this recipe for the endlessly sippable "Typsy Gypsy Cocktail." Cheers! [Photo by @katbrassphoto]

    Pinned: 2 Feb 2015
  • Look to our recipe for honey-herb candied nuts to complete a beautiful cheese board.

    Pinned: 23 Jan 2015
  • Serve this hearty Provençal lamb stew with our root vegetable salad (also pinned to this board) and plenty of crusty bread. [Photo by @katbrassphoto]

    Pinned: 22 Jan 2015