Chef Mat Schuster is a master of Spanish cuisine. He is the executive chef and co-owner, along with his partner, Paco, of the four year-old Canela Bistro & Bar located in San Francisco’s Castro. With Schuster’s creative hands, diners will eat a phenomenal Croquettas con Jamon, a fried small egg shelled shaped tapa, crunchy on the outside and once bitten, oozes out a creamy béchamel interior, dotted with Iberico jam bits. He also submits guests to his version of iconic Spanish albondigas (meatball), a thoughtful mixture of pork belly and shoulder with a hint of housemade chorizo served in an apple cider sauce. Most of San Francisco’s dining landscape is steeped in Anglo, Italian and French cooking, but the food of Spain is some of the most under represented in the culinary capital. Chef Schuster, along with his talented staff, serve up a variety of the country’s tasty bits without having to pull out your passport. In i8tonite’s Chef Questionnaire, he talks about his love of fish, his dislike of sea cucumber and love of Spain.
How long have you been cooking? Sixteen years I suppose but some days I feel like I just started!
What is your favorite food to cook? I love cooking fish and seafood in general. That is my favorite.
What do you always have in your fridge at home? Cheese, yogurt, fruit, almond milk, something pickled, something spicy, something creamy.
What do you cook at home? When I do cook at home, its usually things that we don’t cook at the restaurant like fish tacos or barbecue.
What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Great question. Adventurous, friendly, approachable.
What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Unadventurous, unfriendly, unapproachable. Ha ha!
Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? All of them and multiples.
Beer, wine or cocktail? Beer, beer, beer.
Your favorite cookbook author? Its like asking a parent to choose a favorite child.
Your favorite kitchen tool? Knife.
Your favorite ingredient? A good olive oil.
Your least favorite ingredient? Sea cucumber. Seriously, we actually were served this at a Michelin-star restaurant. Yuck.
Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Waste time.
Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Spanish, of course!
Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork, duh.
Favorite vegetable? Onions, yum.
Chef you most admire? Joyce Goldstein. She knows everything.
Food you like the most to eat? I have a sweet tooth. I need a patch for it.
Food you dislike the most? Haven’t really met one. Oh wait, sea cucumber.
How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None…at the moment.
Recipe from Chef Mat Schuster: Seared Mushrooms with Sherry
Here is a recipe that Chef Mat likes to make at home. Its origin is pinxto bar in Logrono in the North of Spain called Bar Soriano. This place only makes this dish – seared mushrooms in their own juices.
It is simple to make. Take 3 large very white mushrooms. Remove the stem. Heat a pan on high and add in some olive oil, not too much. Sear the mushrooms on one side, then flip when brown. Be careful not to burn. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, add in a little minced garlic and sherry. Skewer the mushrooms on a toothpick and serve on top of a piece of bread. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Delicious.
– The End. Go Eat. –