Chef Matt McCallister thrives on the energy of the kitchen: an atmosphere that is at once chaotic and structured. After cooking in kitchens across the country, Matt found his home in Dallas at FT33, his first solo venture, which he opened at the age of 31 in October 2012. He quickly guided the restaurant to local acclaim, including earning a glowing five-star review from Dallas Morning News Restaurant Critic Leslie Brenner, and recognition of Restaurant of the Year by D magazine in December 2013. Matt and FT33 have since made waves on the national scale, including a spot on the 2013 Top 50 New Restaurant list from Bon Appétit, a 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef nod, and a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest 2014.
Matt has always had an artistic side and a love of food. Growing up, he enjoyed cooking at home and always tended to a large garden. When choosing his career path, he felt torn between the visual and culinary arts, and he attended the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix in 2000 before ultimately choosing cooking. “Art was a passion that always competed with food, but cooking gives me an opportunity to blend the two,” says the Scottsdale, AZ, native, whose artistic sensibilities were influenced by his designer mother and scientific curiosity can be attributed to his research engineer father.
When not cooking at FT33, Matt can be found shopping at farmers’ markets, going on long runs, which he says is when most of his new menu ideas come to light, reading cookbooks, or catching a DnB show. His favorite time, though, is time spent with his daughter, Ella. The five-year-old enjoys shopping, hanging out at the park, reading, working on puzzles, and painting.