Executive Chef Matt Riordan, who heads the kitchen at both Saigon Sisters and Bang Chop Thai Kitchen, is a Chicago native whose passion for cooking began at an early age. The oldest of three brothers, Matt was busily preparing dinners for the family and perusing cookbooks while still in grade school.
He began his restaurant career as a server and bartender at Hackney’s while he was in college studying finance. He loved the restaurant business and so he chose to pursue a restaurant career with a culinary focus. At age 27, he graduated from at the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (CHIC).
After graduating CHIC, he took a line cook position at Brasserie Ruhlman and then worked with the well-respected chef Ryan McCaskey at Shikago, an upscale Asian fusion restaurant (McCaskey is now the chef/proprietor of Acadia).
Wanting to explore additional culinary directions, he took a position at the new Chicago River North location of Pops for Champagne. Beginning as a line cook, he soon was promoted to Sous Chef and eventually, Executive Chef. Riordan began to gain notice for his delicious Asian influenced creations (often served at the restaurant’s “family” meals), and he came under the radar screen of Mary Nguyen Aregoni from the highly regarded Saigon Sisters restaurants. She was looking for a new executive chef and he had become enthusiastic about working with Asian ingredients.
A series of interviews and tastings went very well, and in 2011, he joined Saigon Sisters as Executive Chef. “Saigon Sisters had been experimenting with creative interpretations of Vietnamese food, but Mary wanted to return to a more authentic style of Vietnamese cuisine,” said Riordan. “We were able to elevate the menu by focusing on fresh, authentic ingredients and traditional preparation techniques, and the guests responded positively. Our dishes continue to work so well because they display the complexity and balance that has been part of the Vietnamese culinary tradition for centuries.”
“Matt stood out because of his love of Asian flavors and interesting ideas on how we can continue to elevate traditional Vietnamese street food favorites” said Aregoni. “We want to keep surprising our diners and winning new fans with fresh, delicious, and high-quality Vietnamese and Thai food in our contemporary casual spaces.”
“The Bang Chop menu will present very authentically prepared Thai favorites,” Riordan said. “Our guests will be pleasantly surprised at how good Thai food can be when it is prepared the traditional way, made from scratch with very high-quality ingredients. Thai cuisine is very complex, and when prepared properly, all of the flavors and textures blend together in perfect balance to create a delicious and unique taste.”