By Ellen Walsh
Photos by Steve Aja

What does down home great barbecue fired up under the Texas sky have in common with the haute cuisine presentations of Texas' greatest chefs?

Chef Matt Martinez, Matt’s No Place, TX

A True Texas Culinary Legend

If Matt Martinez’s grandfather had not escaped his own hanging, we would not be sitting here today telling the tale of how Delfino Martinez got to be the legendary chef of the west. A Mexican soldier in Pancho Villa’s army, Delfino Martinez was captured by the Federales in the Mexican Revolutionary War and sentenced to hang. The young and vigorous Delfino had the good grace to escape, crossing over the Mexican border and settling down in Texas with his wife, Maria.

You need to picture the pleasure that Matt gets in telling this story — his feet propped up, drink in his hand and a grin on his face. “What I do know is that his new lease on life either gave him an appetite for cooking or he had it all along.” Matt tells this and the many other stories, punctuated with laughter. We are being entertained by one of America’s grand personalities. Matt is wearing a custom-made brown cowboy hat, Margarita in hand, and has in five minutes welcomed us like we’ve known him since childhood. “Get out of here,” you hear Matt exclaiming to one of our own stories. Matt’s food is fearless and tasty, using rich wonderful ingredients, a roaring wood flame, and plenty of Tex Mex personality. Matt, like Texas, is bigger in person than his reputation.

“Howdy, little Matt!” is how President Lyndon Baines Johnson used to greet Matt when he came to Matt’s daddy’s place. Out of the 4 children that they raised, Matt Jr. was the one that caught the bug, as he stood knee high to President Lyndon Baines Johnson, listening to him rave more than once that this was the best food under the Texas prairie sky. He ain’t little Matt no more.

Today, Matt enjoys his status as one of Texas’ legends. His original Tex-Mex style, that has also been referred to as “prairie/range” style, is the embodiment of high quality culinary ingredients, live fire, and tried and true seasoning rubs he has developed over the years.

Culinary Background
• 4th generation Tex-Mex Chef

• Matt’s father was President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s favorite barbecue chef

• Restaurant Owner of : Matt’s in Jefferson, Matt’s No Place, Matt’s Rancho Martinez, and Matt’s No Place.

• Author of Matt Martinez’s Culinary Frontiers, and Matt Makes a Run for the Border

• Serves on the board of Texas Restaurant Association, focusing on the free trade agreements with Mexico.

• Voted “Best Kept Secret in Dallas” by Money Magazine, along with many other awards

• Inducted into the Texas Restaurant Hall of Honor in June, 2000.

“This is the way cooking was done under the prairie sky, and how it’s supposed to be. We’re merely perfecting what was done right in the first place.”— Matt Martinez, Author of Matt Martinez’s Culinary Frontier

Chef Matt Martinez Recipes:
Las Casas Famous White Wings™
Smoked Brisket
  Texas Sprinkle
  Matt’s Simple Barbecue Sauce

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