By David Nelson
Photos by Brandon Matzek
The pale jade romanescos (a broccoli-cauliflower hybrid) at the Suzie's Farm stall beckon food dude Brandon Matzek, a San Diego-based photographer and food stylist whose Kitchen Konfidence blog is driven partly by visits to Little Italy's Saturday farmers market. As he hefts one, it's unclear whether he or the vegetable quivers first, but the mutual attraction is obvious. You can sense a recipe being born.
"I'll come to the Mercato and find an ingredient I've never used," says the 30 year-old transplant from Hillsborough, New Jersey.
"I'll pull out my phone and do some recipe research right there."
Waggling a bunch of rainbow chard, Matzek offers instructions for how to sauté it with chopped bacon, onions and garlic and serve it sizzling. His blog pairs similarly simple how-tos (for everything from making red velvet pancakes to infusing vodka with bacon and habanero peppers) with mouthwatering photos to nab about 40,000 hits each month.
Matzek recently won the Today Home Chef Challenge, an online competition conducted via the website for Today, NBC's morning news program. "Being featured on Today.com brings me a lot of viewers," he says, speaking above some Jersey-style crooners serenading the farmers market crowd with "On The Boardwalk."
Largely self-trained (his Italian-American mom taught him to make red sauce), Matzek characterizes himself as a "pretty good cook" who discovered an innate knack for teaching. His Konfidence is katching.
"I've had friends who didn't know how to cook and came to my kitchen to learn," he says. "Now they're good home cooks."