Executive Chef Matt Murphy is a pioneer in a new breed of culinary artists who expand their prowess far outside the bounds of the kitchen. His passion for his craft, his commitment to the Gulf Coast community, a head for innovative business, and of course, that rogue-Irishman approach to cooking, are just a few unique facets that shape the character of this respected, dynamic man.
By the age of fourteen, the Dublin-born Murphy was working between his grandfather’s restaurant and his father’s pastry shop, sharpening his natural aptitude for cooking into a career path. After studying culinary arts at the prestigious Cathal Brugha College, he worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, such as The Restaurant in London and The Tea Room in Ireland, before venturing East. In China, Thailand and Hong Kong, he immersed himself in the sights, sounds and flavors of new cultural cooking styles. In Hawaii, he developed a distinct mastery of preparing and cooking fish, as well as an innate understanding of the Islands’ signature blend of both Eastern and Western flavor in their dishes. “Looking back, I can see that all of my travels, all of those techniques I learned across the globe, were preparing me for my career in New Orleans. Someone once told me that New Orleans cuisine is more than a fusion of different cooking styles, it’s a fusion of cultures.”
Chef Matt developed his understanding for Louisiana flavor as Sous-Chef at the world-renowned restaurant, Commander’s Palace, which was also the starting place for famed chefs, such as Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. There, he combined his Classical French and Continental training, the dynamic styling of flavor he adopted from his travels and the Creole-Cajun-Soul influences of New Orleans, all of which elevated his dishes, and career, to the next level.
In 2002, Murphy became the Chef de Cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton’s largest property, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. By the end of his tenure there, he had served as Executive Chef for four years, and the hotel restaurant was renamed “M Bistro” in his honor.
In 2009, he was struck with a very rare, life-threatening disease, which kept him hospitalized for three months. The outpouring of support for the beloved chef from the restaurant community, as well as the public, could only be described as amazing. With eighteen-month-old quadruplets and fifth baby on the way, the “Iron Chef” beat the odds, and was home in time to welcome his new baby girl.
After making a triumphant return to the kitchen, Chef Murphy immediately got back to the many Community programs that are near to his heart. He acts as a mentor at Café Hope and Café Reconcile, both culinary programs that teach innovative life skills and job-training programs for severely at-risk youths. He spreads his goodwill between many other organizations including March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, St. Bernard Project and the Good Shepherd School of New Orleans. He has also helped to develop a mentoring program through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s new program, ProStart.
In June of 2010, exactly one year after the region joined together to put on a phenomenal fundraiser for the hospitalized Chef, he returned the favor by organizing “Chefs for Fishermen and Families.” This benefit brought together New Orleans’ top restaurants in Grand Isle, LA, one of the areas that suffered the most from the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Accolades include the prestigious title of Best Chef in the Southwest by La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, as well as winner of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience’s Grand Tasting for six years running, and those barely skim the surface. Under his guidance, M bistro was ranked as one of the top 4 Farm-to-Table hotel restaurants by Travel + Leisure (January 2011).
In August 2011, Chef Matt Murphy fulfilled his dream of opening his own Irish pub and restaurant, The Irish House. The Irish House is a culmination of all of his training and experience, and gives him an opportunity to showcase his unique culinary perspective. Today, the most important thing to this bona-fide family man and unofficial ambassador of New Orleans, is to live, laugh, cook and always give back.