In March, the Andover Inn welcomed Matt Coyle, new Executive Chef, to its signature restaurant Samuel’s. With an extensive background in different international cuisines, Coyle is an exciting new addition to the culinary staff at the Andover Inn.
Sparing some time from his launch party, where he introduced a new Bistro menu, Coyle talked a bit about what he will bring to the Andover Inn.
Q: How long have you been involved in the culinary world? Has it always been your lifelong dream to be a chef?
A: I actually did not start out wanting to become a chef. I followed my dad’s footsteps in manufacturing, and I remained in the business for almost a decade. However, my mom was a chef at a college for almost 30 years. During my thirties, I had one of those mid-life career changes. I actually could not boil an egg at the age of 30—I could burn toast pretty well. Long story short, I decided to go to culinary school and worked at a restaurant with a sous-chef for about two years.
Q: What is your culinary education background?
A: Prior to the manufacturing business I was in, I graduated from Sullivan University but then decided to go to culinary school [at the age of 30] after wanting to pursue a career as a chef. I ended up going to the California Sushi Academy after that and went to Tokyo. After Sushi [Academy], I ventured to Koh Samui, an island off of Thailand and Malaysia. I studied under the tutelage of a renowned Thai chef, Chef Roongfa, to learn about Thai cuisine. Since then, I’ve worked in various places both outside of the country and in the U.S.
Q: How did you decide to come here to become the Executive Chef at the Andover Inn?
A: Before applying for the Executive Chef position at the Andover Inn, I had actually just returned from Vietnam. I was working at a Vietnamese restaurant, A Taste of Vietnam, in Leominster, MA, when the chef whom I was working with, Chef Tony, sent me to Vietnam with his family for a culinary program. I was there for two weeks learning how to cook Vietnamese food when a friend of mine, who is a general manager at Samuel’s, e-mailed me about a possible opening for an executive chef [position] at the Andover Inn. So I decided to try my chances and applied. I’ve now been working here since early March and am enjoying my time.
Q: What is special about the new Bistro menu that was launched at the party?
A: It’s a little bit of everything: Asian, home-style but mainly New England. We tweaked some of the dishes’ traditional flavors to make them unique. We are starting to move towards food that is sustainable and is made in-house. For appetizers and starters like spring rolls and wontons, we roll them by hand. Some of my original creations that I put into the menu are the Chef’s Famous House Made Vegetarian Burger, Candied Short Rib of Beef and the Basil Feta Spread.
Q: Out of all the dishes that you have introduced to Samuel’s, which ones are you most proud of?
A: On the Samuel’s menu right now, I am most proud of the Short Rib and the Veggie Burger. A lot of people who have never had a veggie burger before, or [people who] originally did not like veggie burgers, have approached me and said, “That’s really good. It’s really tasty.” When I can get somebody to try something new or take a chance on food they have had a bad experience with and end up changing their minds about it, I have to admit, it’s a really good feeling.
Q: You’ve been to many places around the world for culinary study. Which countries most influence your cooking style?
A: I would say Vietnam and Japan. When I visited both countries, I learned to love eating and cooking Asian cuisine. I like good Asian [cuisine], not the Americanized versions. It’s the true, legitimate Asian food. I believe in making authentic cuisines the correct way.
Q: Is there a dish that you enjoy cooking the most for your personal enjoyment?
A: I’m a big fan of soups, including noodle soups and rich broths. My favorite would be the Vietnamese noodle soup, Pho.