Matt Brown makes good food for a good cause. As the resident chef for the Good Shepherd Food Bank (GSFB), a non-profit which works to end hunger in Maine, he says his "style is lighter, leaner, healthier cuisine." It's certainly no less creative than that of more decadent chefs in the area; he puts a local twist on dishes like chicken tacos with strawberry salsa, "try[ing] to add flavorful and nutritious ingredients as often as possible."
Brown describes the passion currently occupying much of his time, profiled back in February, which has raised both his own visibility in the food community as well as that of the organization: "[GSFB] finance guy David DiPerri had a food truck called Diggity Dogs. He donated his truck and equipment," which was then transformed into the Good Shepherd Food Truck. Building on traditional event catering, Brown now also runs the food truck, which can be found at venues like Rising Tide Brewing Company and Greendrinks events in Portland. All proceeds benefit the GSFB's programs.
The industrious chef is involved with Blue Rooster Food Co.'s popular 13-week guest series, as well. Now at its halfway point, the series has a different Maine chef designing a special hot dog for sale at the eatery each week, proceeds of which support the non-profit. The chef in week five was Brown himself, who gave Portland "The Shepherd Dog." He drew inspiration from colleague DiPerri again: "I asked him about the idea and he suggested a Boston dog: Baked beans, onions, and mustard. So I played on that, with a white bean puree, onions in a balsamic marmalade, and radicchio added for color and bitterness."
Brown has nothing but positive words for Blue Rooster co-owners and husband and wife chefs Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, who he says are "so awesome. They're such nice people, friends, and strong supporters of the food banks." Lopez, who has led GSFB cooking classes with Sansonetti, reciprocated the compliment, adding, "Whenever Matt asks us to do something, we always try to say yes."
Furthering that notion, Sansonetti will be the first guest chef in a series of Good Shepherd Food Truck collaborations that Brown is hosting at Portland Flea-For-All's monthly Flea Bites! food truck gathering, starting this Friday, July 11. Describing how the team-up might pan out, Brown says he's not sure exactly what each menu will look like, "but it will be different each time, an expression of the chef's cooking style combined with mine on a food truck! So with Damian's menu we'll probably focus on Italian food," including arancini and meatball sliders.
The series will continue on August 1 with chef-owner David Turin of the eponymous David's restaurants. On September 5, chef-owner Shannon Bard of Zapoteca, Mixteca, and forthcoming Toroso, will board the food truck. Chef-owner Harding-Lee Smith of the four Room restaurants will join Brown on October 3. Brown explains, "I haven't really worked with them before, I just know them and their passion for fighting hunger. They've done a course at our annual dinner here, and I know they are great chefs and people." With so many interesting events on his plate, Brown is bound to put a dent in Mainers' hunger, directly and indirectly; follow the food truck on Facebook to learn his whereabouts.
· Flea Bites! Friday July 11 [FB]
· All Good Shepherd Food Bank Coverage [-EME-]