Matthew Safranek, the executive chef at 350 Main, is a master at building flavor-infused dishes. His experience working in kitchens around the globe has earned him and 350 Main endless kudos, yet Matthew does his work with an essence of humility.
When he was younger, Matthew and his military family moved around a lot. While living in Germany, he was introduced to European cuisine. “My family made sure to take us to some nice European restaurants when we lived there,” he remembers.
Those early dining experiences fostered a fascination with cooking and laid the foundation for his career as a chef. By his late teens, Matthew knew his life’s calling — “I experienced a type of early mid-life crisis right out of high school. I had to ask myself if college was a waste of my time and other people’s time.”
The answer was a firm yes. Instead, Matthew enrolled in culinary school in Seattle and fell in love with cooking.
“I started really getting excited about my career path in Seattle under chef Jonathan Sundstrom,” he says.
Matthew started his new career at Tribeca Grill in New York City, a job that opened endless doors. He got hired as the sous chef at Harbor View Hotel on Martha’s Vineyard and accepted an offer to be a chef consultant for The Shelbourne, a luxury, five-star hotel in Dublin, Ireland.
In 2008, Matthew began working in Park City seasonally, migrating between Martha’s Vineyard and Utah. It was then that he established his connection with 350 Main. For 10 years, he maintained the rhythm of seasonal work, only ever living and working in Park City part time.
But with the birth of his daughter Madeleine in 2018, his life changed, and he decided to make Park City his permanent home. A synchronistic relationship with 350 Main’s managing partner Cortney Johanson influenced his decision to become the restaurant’s year- round executive chef. In the role, he brings diversity, flavor, and flare to traditional American dishes by integrating flavors from around the globe. “I aim to introduce our clientele to new flavor profiles, paired with American classics,” he says.
The 350 Main menu features creative pairings like fried chicken with katsu sauce, beef tenderloin with chimichurri, and fried yucca with walnut romesco.
While Matthew admittedly “loves cuisines from countries that celebrate beef,” his menu has abundant vegan and vegetarian choices that shine just as bright. One favorite is his dish of grilled French horn mushrooms combined with a house-made vegan remoulade and crispy cauliflower with harissa and pine nut hummus.
In addition to infusing his dishes with robust flavors, Matthew uses house-made sauces, bread, and pasta and relies on ingredients from local vendors — olive oil from Ioulia Greek Olive Oil Co., Mayflower Feta from Park City Creamery, Utah-caught trout, and local honey.
With every choice of flavor and ingredient, Matthew has one goal in mind: “I want every dish to be approachable and delicious,” a wish that mirrors his humble attitude and quest for excellence. Meals are served ready to devour without any haughty, hard-to-eat presentation.
True to his modest nature, Matthew says his favorite thing about being the executive chef “is encouraging and cheering his team members on.” It’s a quality that will prove useful in the coming months as 350 Main plans the summer opening of a second Main Street restaurant. Chef Jason Johnson will oversee everyday operations at 350 Main while Matthew devotes himself to creating the new restaurant’s menu and dining experience.
If his time at 350 Main is any indication, the new venture will prove a success. The care Matthew pours into his team and his menu is reflected in the sleek, warm, and inviting atmosphere of 350 Main and the comfortable American classics — with a worldly twist — visitors have grown to love.