SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN FARM TO SCHOOL
Chef Michael Matthews started his love and passion for food at a very young age, standing on a stool at his grandmother's side, where he learned food is essential to our well-being. He discovered that all meals need to be full of flavor and love to enjoy with family and friends. Chef Matthews decided to pursue his passion for food and cultures and attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. When he graduated, Chef Matthews worked in numerous kitchens from airlines, private jets, high-end catering, and supermarkets. He decided to go back to school to get his teaching license to help mold future culinary-enthusiasts and help them love and respect the ingredients as much as he did.
Chef Matthews started his teaching career at Academy360 Upper School, a program of the NJ nonprofit Spectrum360, which serves children with autism and other related and behavioral disabilities. His team hit the ground running, and in just six school years, has grown the program into both a day and afterschool programs with two kitchens, two teaching greenhouses, and over 200 hours of cooking lessons. While teaching students essential life and culinary skills, he leads the students to create meals with fresh ingredients from Academy360 Greenhouse or local farms, a true farm to table curriculum. He reinforces lessons and helps students develop dishes with taste, texture, appearance, and a whole lot of love. The classroom flows from the garden to the kitchen to the dining plates of eager students as guests. This dedication to field to fork led Chef Mike and Spectrum 360 to receive the 2019-2020 "Best in New Jersey" Farm to School Award from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. To learn more about the CulinaryAcademy360 Program visit.