A native New Yorker, Matt Reichel is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. He has been a part of the Berghoff family for more than 20 years. As Executive Chef, Chef Matt oversees the efficient operations of four kitchens for the restaurant and catering business. In many ways, this is a challenging and demanding position yet Chef Matt continues to rise to the challenge. There are multiple employees under his supervision. Chef Matt’s culinary abilities reach beyond the classic German dishes that have made our restaurant famous. On a weekly basis, there is a tasting for which Chef Matt uses seasonal items to create new and interesting dishes. Depending on the feedback from these tastings, a new menu of specials is introduced every three weeks.
In 1998, the Berghoff expanded its business by opening the Berghoff Café at O’Hare Airport. Not only did Chef Matt play a large role in the orchestration and opening of the Café, but he also has the ongoing responsibility of providing the Café with its daily menu. In 1999, the Berghoff won the prestigious James Beard Regional Classic Award, honoring the restaurant for its commitment to excellence in food service.
Prior to his extensive time at the Berghoff, Chef Matt was the Executive Chef for eleven years in Westchester County, New York for an American cuisine called Par’s, and for Flik International, a food service company for corporate clients and colleges. While with Flik, Chef Matt worked at Manhattanville College and Sara Lawrence College thereafter. It was there that he had the opportunity of exploring vegetarian and vegan menus (as well as meeting the challenge of pleasing college students and their tuition-paying parents!).
Chef Matt was also the Executive Chef at the Harrison Conference Center, located on Long Island’s north shore in Glen Cove. While working there, Chef Matt created a culinary masterpiece out of lobsters, crab, and other various seafoods. This said masterpiece won him an award at the New York City Restaurant and Hotel Show for originality in a presentation piece.
More recently, Chef Matt has appeared on Chicago’s Fox in the Morning, CBS’s The Saturday Early Show’s segment “Chef on a Shoestring,” and the Food Network’s “Legendary Hangouts.” He has been featured in such magazines as Victoria, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and the cookbook, Chef on a Shoestring.
Chef Matt now resides in Lake Bluff with his wife, two daughters, two cats, and a pond full of fish (which he promises never to sauté!).
Chef Matt’s Spinach Dip
Makes 3 Cups
When Chef Matt became Berghoff’s Executive Chef in 1995, our creamed spinach was already famous. But he created another Spinach dip that became almost as popular, proving too much of a good thing is never enough. This can be used as a dip or a stuffing and is best made one day ahead.
2 large red bell peppers
Oil, as needed
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 cup prepared ranch dressing
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped water chestnuts
2 teaspoons prepared teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
To make the Spinach Dip:
Between your hands, lightly rub the peppers with oil. Using long-handled tongs, place them on an open flame or rack set over an electric burner on high heat, turning them until their skins are blackened, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer the peppers to a heatproof bowl and let stand, covered, with plastic wrap, until cool enough to handle. Keeping the peppers whole, peel them, cut off their tops, and scoop out and discard their seeds and ribs. Dice the peppers, reserving ½ cup for the dip. Wrap and refrigerate any remainder for future use.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the reserved ½ cup of roasted pepper with the other ingredients; mix well. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least one day before needed.