Throughout Matt Celeste’s career as a chef, he has been committed to both technique and local flavor. A native of Danvers, Mass., he grew up eating his Sicilian grandmother’s pasta, sauce, and meatballs. But it wasn’t until he took a cooking job in college, while he was studying computer science, that he discovered that his place was in the kitchen.
After graduating from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Celeste turned squarely towards the act of cooking full-time, working at Boston institutions like Mistral, Au’jourdhui at the Four Seasons and Eastern Standard. Working alongside Executive Chef Jeremy Sewall, Celeste put all of his fine-dining knowledge to the test as he faced the all-day, all-night dining crowds that fill the Kenmore Square establishment. Though extreme, the work, professional atmosphere, and team environment prepared him to step up to the plate when Sewall asked him to be part of the opening team of Island Creek Oyster Bar next door. There, Celeste received a crash course in fish butchery and cooking as he helped execute a daily-changing menu.
Stepping away from the Kenmore Square team to work at Posto in Somerville, Celeste later dove into the hands-on experience of making fresh pastas and pizzas; he eventually returned to a fine-dining establishment, working under Chef William Kovel at Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge. All the while, the young chef was building up his skill set, learning how to juggle multiple facets of a running both a traditional kitchen and an event facility, and unknowingly preparing for his future role at the Island Creek Oyster Bar Burlington, the second outpost of ICOB, where he captains the culinary team as Chef de Cuisine, working alongside friend and mentor, Jeremy Sewall and Executive Chef Nicola Hobson.
Outside of work, Celeste is inspired by foods of all stripes and colors, and feels most in his element eating Chinese takeout or a plate steak tartare. If it tastes good—like his Nana’s sauce always did—he’s motivated to recreate and refine it. Music and a good workout get him up in the morning—but it’s what he’ll cook and eat throughout the day that fuels is soul.