My name is Matt Houck, and I’m an optometrist with a fierce passion for food and cooking! My recent obsession with cooking has led me to more than I could have ever expected. This blog will highlight some of those journeys. I will also share some recipes and food science that I learn along the way. But just a little bit of information about me first:
My love for food did not begin like most… in fact, it was actually the complete opposite of love! For the first 20 years of my life, I was an extremely picky eater. My mom would watch me pout at the dinner table for 2 hours because I would not eat two spoonfuls of peas! So much has changed since I began exploring new ingredients and foods.
Overcoming my picky eating habits was something that happened from peer pressure. I was too embarrassed to pick the tomatoes off of my premade sandwiches in high school with my friends sitting around me… so I begrudgingly ate them! Slowly, I started noticing I would actually rather have the tomatoes on my sandwich. I began to try that same mentality with other foods and this eventually led me to where I am now!
Even though I was conquering my picky eating habits, I did not cook very much throughout college. Cooking required time and knowledge, both of which I lacked, especially during optometry school. Despite not cooking often, I started developing a deep appreciation for plating and the art of food. I have always been intrigued by various forms of art, so it was not a surprise that I gravitated toward plating with food. One of my first inspirations was Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry cookbook. The simplicity and beauty of the dishes in that book really struck a chord with me. You can say this was the spark for the obsession that was about to ensue.
After school and with only minimal cooking skills, I attempted to recreate these picture-perfect dishes I had seen in cookbooks and on social media. And they all went… well let’s just say, I was not very proud of them. They looked horrendous and tasted even worse! I was determined to become better though. I started watching countless videos and reading numerous recipes, but I think what pushed me to improve the most was my passion! I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed the art and the science of cooking. This completely contradicted the picky-eater from 10 years before, which made me question why I had this innate passion? Regardless, I just loved it so much that I had to be cooking when I was not seeing patients.
Like anything, the only way to get better at something is practice and persistence. I studied and cooked whenever I could, because it was the only way to satisfy this fiery passion! Luckily, it was starting to pay off. The food was tasting better and looking like the dishes that have always caught my eye. This only ignited my passion even further. At this point, it was an unconscious obsession!
So this is where we are today. I’ve come a long way if you think that 15 years ago I probably wouldn’t even look at something that came out of the ground. Continue to follow me on my food journey! I am just getting started!!