CHEF SPOTLIGHT: PJ Mathews at home at LuLu's

Pam Griffin | 315-4491 | @DestinLogPam | pgriffin@thedestinlog.com
PJ Mathews, executive chef at LuLu's in Destin, is the Log's Chef of the Month. SPECIAL TO THE LOG

Most chefs interviewed the last three years started cooking at a very early age. This month's chef PJ Mathews, executive chef at Lulu's, is no different.

He told The Log he cooked from a young age with his mother, and the first thing he remembers making was scrambled eggs at the age of 6 or 7. By the time he was 10, he knew being a chef was his life's calling.

"I haven't actually had any schooling," he said. "Mainly hands on, working in different restaurants on the Gulf Coast until I found my home here at LuLu's."

And home he has been for 11 years, starting as a fry cook. With the help and guidance of Dylan Feenker, corporate executive chef of Lulu's, Mathews continued to grow in to the chef's position.

"Working at LuLu's is challenging in the fact that we serve so many people and employ so many people," Mathews said. "But when we are firing on all cylinders, it's an amazing site."

The chef loves to prepare Italian cuisine and his favorite to fix — and eat — is his father's lasagna.

"The robust and savory flavors, the smell of the house while you're cooking will bring the family home.

"But I love cooking on an open flame," he said. "Grilling a good piece of fish or steak ... you can't beat that."

Q: What is most necessary ingredient in the majority of recipes?

A: Lucy would say love. I say salt.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give a home cook?

A: I would tell a home cook to try something new — explore flavors from around the world.