Portsmouth chef in the running for Food & Wine's 'new chef' title honors
PORTSMOUTH - Moxy has only been open on Penhallow Street for 10 short months, but owner/executive chef Matt Louis has made quite the name for himself in that time.
Most recently, the young, innovative and well-trained chef has been nominated by Food & Wine magazine for its People's Best New Chef 2013 honor.
Louis is the only New Hampshire chef on this year's list of 10 New England nominees.
Louis said it is "mind-boggling" to be nominated, but even more overwhelming is the community support already behind him.
"It is really amazing to have all the support that we do from within the restaurant and people working on rounding up votes here, but also everybody . spreading the word. The support has been overwhelming, it really has," Louis said.
Online voting began on Monday and continues through March 18 at www.foodandwine.com/the-peoples-bnc. The field of 100 nominees includes 10 chefs in each of 10 regions across the country. The chef with the most votes in each region will be named a finalist and the chef with the most votes overall will be named "The People's Best New Chef." The winner will be revealed online at www.foodandwine.com on March 19 and will be featured in the July issue of the magazine.
After less than 48 hours of voting, Louis was in second place behind Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland,Maine, with more than 27 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, Louis had stopped watching the vote count but said the support demonstrates something about the community, and the state, as a whole.
"It is something everybody can get excited about, which is great, and I would . be giving all my support to somebody else if it happened to them because it is great for all of us," Louis said.
When he opened Moxy in May 2012, Louis wanted to find a niche that fit naturally with Portsmouth's bustling restaurant scene.
"I think we've kind of fallen into a different dynamic that gives it its own identity but complements what everyone else is doing well around here as well," Louis said.
Moxy offers modern American tapas, focusing on smaller plates meant for sharing, with locally sourced produce, seafood and meat.
He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America where he learned under Chef Thomas Keller, and worked in the kitchen of The French Laundry. He's traveled and worked in top kitchens from Japan to Holland.
He also worked as the executive sous chef at Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in New Castle where he met local restaurateur Jay McSharry and began formulating the idea that became Moxy.
He said he does the work because he loves it, but striving for national recognition is always at the back of one's mind.
"Just getting the nomination . from one of the most respected sources (in the industry) is pretty overwhelming itself," Louis said.