A Healthy World View Helps Vitamix Chef Matt Dugan Improve His Craft
From small-town Ohio boy to global culinary pro, Vitamix executive chef Matt Dugan’s story is one of sustainable reinvention. And his cuisine follows suit.
Dugan, from self-described “farm town”, followed a passion for culinary arts, which led him across the U.S. working for Hyatt, and around the world for Vitamix.
Master of innovation … and observation
Dugan is a master of culinary creativity, and he credits his Vitamix machine for helping with that.
“So many people see recipes as boundaries, when they’re actually stepping stones into creativity,” said Dugan. “My Vitamix blender allows me to take a recipe, make it my own, and feel comfortable with it. For a whole fruit margarita, I remove the ice and add frozen cherries; I turn lemon curd into blood orange curd or raspberry curd, or make a savory curd with carrot.”
Dugan is also a keen spectator of others’ culinary ingenuity, especially when using Vitamix blenders. He’s observed some of the most innovative approaches at events by long-time industry partner StarChefs, where everyone has a different take on how to harness the power and precision of Vitamix Commercial machines.
“I’ve seen StarChefs pros grind oyster shells in their Vita-Prep 3 to create a bed for oysters on the half shell, or pulverize whole lobster shells before straining them off to create the most flavorful lobster bisque.”
Dugan’s mantra has always been “Trust the chef; they know what they’re doing.” He trusts industry chefs to teach him about culinary trends, innovations and how they’re using Vitamix machines. He, in turn, helps culinary professionals elevate their offerings through new techniques and applications.
A Healthy Approach
At Vitamix, Dugan is in charge of recipe and product development. But he sees his role as a means to fulfill a greater calling: teaching others how Vitamix can transform their lives. He uses industry and consumer feedback to refine approaches, recipes—and even products—to help individuals and organizations achieve their goals.
In Dugan’s words, “We all want to be healthier. Healthy and sustainable eating go hand in hand.”
He’s thrilled that Vitamix is getting back to its roots, leading the health trend. “We’re helping businesses and individuals who want to be a part of the plant-forward movement, eating more fruits, vegetables and grains and less traditional protein,” said Dugan. “This doesn’t mean you have to be a vegan or a vegetarian, you just have to eat more sustainably.”
Even in professional foodservice applications, more and more people want to understand their food’s origins and know if it’s healthy or not. According to a 2017 National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey, 70 percent of consumers say availability of healthy menu items influences where they dine out. And plant-based and veggie-centric foods were also identified by the NRA as a top food and beverage trend for 2019.
Along these lines, Vitamix—and Dugan—help businesses incorporate “stealth health” to attract customers, transforming healthy, sustainable ingredients into something that tastes decadent, like plant-based smoothies or creamy soups without the cream.
Vitamix gives Dugan the tools and resources to travel the world to improve his craft and help others do the same. He’s prepared Ricotta Cavatelli with Basil Pesto and Olive Tapenade in Milan and Octopus a La Plancha in Spain.
Dugan believes his experiences and interactions with culinary professionals abroad make him a better chef and allow him to write better recipes.
Dugan pursues his international culinary study, even when he doesn’t have the opportunity to travel.
“Every week I bring home a new cookbook and we cook that cuisine together as a family—Vietnamese, Spanish, Pacific Northwest,” he said. “I don’t want to pigeon hole myself with one particular style or approach.”
Whatever Dugan’s current goals, he knows that Vitamix machines can support them.
“For me, the one big thing is dependability,” said Dugan. “Dependability goes hand in hand with elevating your cuisine. My Vitamix is always there for me.”