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
  • Pair these stuffed peppers with your favorite glass of red wine and MANGIA! Recipe courtesy of Sarasota's own Piccolo Italian Market & Deli.

    Pinned: 18 Sep 2014
  • Bring on the flavors of fall with Slow-Cooked Onion Fettuccine with Crispy Pangrattato.

    Pinned: 18 Sep 2014
  • Now this is where it's at. The real deal. The Cortez Boil from Bradenton Beach's Blue Marlin Grill.

    Pinned: 11 Sep 2014
  • Who's ready for a picnic? Take some of these Avocado-Shrimp Rolls along in your basket.

    Pinned: 11 Sep 2014
  • This recipe for Grandma's Sweet Cornbread is served up daily at Bradenton Beach's Blue Marlin Grill.

    Pinned: 4 Sep 2014
  • Make a statement with this side: Grilled Baby Eggplant with Mozzarella and Pine Nut Gremolata

    Pinned: 4 Sep 2014
  • Not your grandma's pineapple upside-down cake: Caramelized Pineapple with Coconut Crumble.

    Pinned: 28 Aug 2014
  • From our Summer Seasonal Kitchen: Pineapple-Shrimp Cocktail.

    Pinned: 28 Aug 2014
  • Jalapeño Poppers! This signature party appetizer comes with two bonuses: 1) it's seasonal, and 2) BACON.

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2014
  • This gorgeous recipe for Fish Tacos is courtesy of Chef Doug Vogel of Maggie's Seafood.

    Pinned: 21 Aug 2014