Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A culinary journey with Chef Matt Horn

Chef Matt Horn helped promote Schwan's Home Service
during Super Bowl LIVE by joining the WCCO news
team in Minnesota. He did a short cooking demonstration
with food showing the ease of preparation for a
"home meal advantage" on game day.
June 12, 2018 — Since joining the company more than 15 years ago, Corporate Executive Chef Matt Horn’s passion for food has helped our company bridge the gap of ever-changing culinary trends to meet consumer and customer demands.

His duties as a corporate chef have evolved throughout the years, but today his primary responsibilities include partnering with our retail brand teams, serving as a liaison between our company’s product innovation & development (PI&D) team and the sales and marketing teams, supporting Schwan’s Chef Collective, representing Schwan's at industry conferences and making occasional media appearances.

Although he had an early interest in food as a child, Matt says his education didn’t lead him to a culinary career right away. He originally attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he received an undergraduate degree for graphic design.

Following his undergrad studies, Matt had the opportunity to venture on a solo trip to Southeast Asia — a place he says he always wanted to explore. For six weeks, he traveled around Malaysia and Singapore to meet up with friends and eat foods he’d never seen before.

“I remember standing in front of a food stand full of fresh fruit,” he said. “The left side of my brain was identifying it all as fruit, but I couldn’t name any of the food in front of me. In that moment, I had an amazing sense of diversity and realized how vast the world of food was.”

Matt’s intent after the trip was to go to graduate school and receive a master’s degree in arts, but through a mentorship, he realized his true passion was food. That is how he decided to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York.

“I remember walking to campus and having this feeling like I was walking through the gates of Valhalla,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘This is what I am supposed to be doing and where I am supposed to be.’ ”

While he has always been a decent student, Matt described his time at the CIA as different. Information was effortlessly retained; and in 1997, he graduated at the top of his class without ever missing a day of school.

Matt said he went to culinary school at the best possible time. The rise of the internet and Food Network  made great recipe ideas and food concepts easier to share. Additionally, hard-to-obtain ingredients were becoming more accessible and less expensive throughout the United States.

"It was a real evolution in food," he said.

Joining Schwan’s

In 2002, following culinary school and five years of working in fine-dining restaurants throughout the Twin Cities, Matt sought to get away from a traditional chef routine of working weekends, nights and holidays.

“I saw all my friends who didn’t go down a culinary path getting to settle down, get married and have kids,” he said.

By coincidence, at the same time, a friend of his had mentioned that they were joining Schwan’s Company and that a state-of-the-art research and development facility was being put together. Schwan's PI&D Center officially opened on Nov. 30, 2001.

“My friend said Schwan’s was looking to put together a culinary team of corporate chefs,” Matt said. “I didn’t know much about it, but my friend gave me a contact at Schwan’s. I talked to the culinary director at the time and the rest is history.”

As time passed, Matt has continued to explore ways to add value. He assists teams in developing new products. And, to influence the taste and visual appeal of our foods, Matt has applied skills from his background in graphic design and helps with food photography and styling.

His role with us also evolved into being a spokesperson. This has included participating in industry conferences, media appearances and working as a cross-functional team partner with PI&D, sales and marketing.

For new employees in sales and marketing, Matt has put together a “Pizza 101” and “Desserts 101” course to train them on food vernacular and how to better communicate specific details about foods to their research and development partners.

“We have a lot of people who join the company with no experience in the food industry or marketing,” Matt said. “When you enter the food world, it is an entirely different set of lingo and jargon; it involves many senses — seeing, smelling, touching, tasting.”

It’s difficult to determine where Matt’s expertise will guide him next at Schwan’s, but it is clear that he is in-tune to the shifts of the culinary industry and finding connections on how he can add value to our company’s culinary journey.

“I love that food is a never-ending journey of knowledge and that you will never know everything,” Matt said. “People say that everything with food has already been done, but there are always ways of combining old ideas and restructuring hem into new innovative concepts that lead to growth.”

Popular Posts