On the Hulu hit show The Bear, set in the anarchic disarray of a malfunctioning Italian sandwich shop in Chicago, Matty Matheson plays Neil Fak, a handyman who never handles food. In real life, Matheson is the only trained chef among the cast. The Bear centers on “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), an uncompromising culinary prodigy struggling with the recent suicide of his brother and the psychological pressure cooker of his own psyche while having to take care of the family restaurant. Matheson is also a producer on the show, which was created by his close friend, Chicago native Christopher Storer.
Matheson — who says the cast has a group chat that is “popping at all times” — knows firsthand the pressures of restaurant life. The well-known Toronto chef and food personality (who regularly appeared on Vice’s series Munchies) had a 10-year run with the now-closed Parts & Labour diner. “I opened my first restaurant when I was 26. When you’re young and you’re running a business, there is a lot of ego. There were a lot of humbling moments,” says the tattoo-covered Canadian, 40, via Zoom.
In May, Matheson opened his latest venture, Prime Seafood Palace (944 Queen St. West). The Scandi-design-influenced interior is done in polished wood and copper, while the menu highlights locally sourced meat and seafood (such as Humboldt squid with stracciatella and celtuce) and fresh produce from the chef’s own Blue Goose Farm. He also runs Matty’s Patty’s Burger Club (923 Queen St. West) and Matty Matheson’s Meat + Three, a barbecue spot in Fort Erie, a city to the south where he lives part time. Below, Matheson shares some of his favorite spots to grab a bite in Toronto.
BERNHARDT’S, 202 Dovercourt Road, Beaconsfield Village
“They cook vegetables — the best in the city — and have the best back patio,” says Matheson of this rotisserie chicken specialist.
DOTTY’S, 1588 Dupont St., The Junction
“Run by some of my favorite people that just happen to make simple, perfect food that makes me feel truly happy,” says the chef of this new restaurant from the folks behind the now-closed Dandylion.
PHO LINH 1156 College St., Brockton Village
“Toronto is Toronto, so it’s got every food item you could think of,” says Matheson of the city’s international cuisine. “It’s got amazing doubles [a Trinidadian dish], Jamaican food and fucking incredible ramen. [Vietnamese spot] Pho Linh is probably the restaurant I go to the most since I moved to Toronto in 2000.”
SHOUSHIN 3328 Yonge St., Bedford Park
SUSHI MASAKI SAITO 88 Avenue Road, Midtown
“If I was to kind of ball out, I’m going to eat something I can’t prepare at home, like at high-end sushi spots,” says Matheson of Shoushin (where an omakase meal starts at $480 Canadian) and Sushi Masaki Saito ($680). “Last year on my wedding anniversary, we went [to Shoushin] because my wife, Trish, always wants nice sushi, and that is our favorite thing when it comes to spending time together and eating out.”
This story first appeared in the Sept. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.