‘Matty And Benny Eat Out America’ is the best cooking show ever…?
On paper, the combination of a cookbook author/restaurateur and a Grammy-nominated pop producer might seem a little strange. On camera, the result is a beautiful juxtaposition between these two worlds, made possible by years of friendship and unrivaled chemistry. However, for Matty Matheson, who’s best known for his 2018 New York Times bestselling cookbook, hosting shows on the VICE Network and an array of successful pop-up restaurants, even he admits that this friendship was completely unexpected to begin with.
Matheson admits that he didn’t even know who producer/songwriter Benny Blanco was until meeting nearly a decade ago on a fateful night at legendary Toronto restaurant Parts & Labour. Unbeknownst to Matheson, Blanco had already penned successful singles with superstars such as Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Maroon 5.
It’s something that Matheson would have otherwise never paid attention to, as his roots are more in line with punk music while also growing up in Canada’s vibrant late ’90s hardcore scene. However, the two were quick to bond over their shared love of great food, great conversation and over-the-top comedy. It’s resulted in a now almost brotherly relationship that’s displayed on the hilarious and heartfelt digital series they co-host together, Matty And Benny Eat Out America.
Where are you at right now?
MATTY MATHESON: I’m just in the back alley of a new restaurant I’m opening in Toronto called Fonda Balam. I previously did a pop-up called Birria Balam, and from there I partnered up with my friends Julio [Guajardo] and Kate [Chomyshyn], who are great chefs from a fine-dining background, to launch this new restaurant. We are about two weeks away from launching, so [I’m] just doing a bunch of shit.
BENNY BLANCO: It’s Yom Kippur today, and I said I wasn’t going to work today, but when Matty tells me we’re doing something, I do it, no questions asked.
How did you two meet in the first place?
MATHESON: Benny was a big fan of mine. I didn’t even know who he was. I don’t listen to this pop music situation over here. Benny got a reservation at [legendary Toronto restaurant] Parts & Labour. He wanted to see what the real funk was. Now it’s been about nine years, and the rest is history.
BLANCO: I will tell you something crazy. Early on when we first met, I told Matty, “I want to bring my friend to the restaurant,” and he’s like, “OK, who’s your friend?” I was like, “He’s an artist. His name’s Ed Sheeran.” Matty’s like, “Who’s Ed Sheeran?” He had no clue, even though Ed was playing in town at the time at the arena in Toronto. Ed ended up not being able to come in, but we were like, “We have to get him a burger regardless.” I got the burger and brought it to the concert. Afterwards, I told Matty to come out and hang with us. Matty doesn’t go out a lot but decided to come this time.
When he arrived, he ended up pulling around the back of the arena in a huge pickup truck, not knowing how famous Ed is, and actually got stuck where there was a barricade with hundreds of kids waiting to meet Ed. The kids ended up jumping on his truck, and Matty had passengers in the front of the car, so I kid you not, Ed Sheeran and I had to jump into the flatbed of the pickup truck to escape. As we were driving away, kids were hanging on to the car. Matty ended up going over the median, trying to lose the kids as he’s driving 70 mph while Ed and I were lying flat on our backs drinking beer. To this day, people bring this up, and I can say that this was the first time Matty embarrassed me.
It’s really cool to see how involved you are in every aspect of making your show Eat Out America. Where does that DIY ethos come from?
MATHESON: It’s because it’s our show. There is one producer and really just us. There’s no director. For this new season, we have a PA for the first time, as we didn’t even have one for the first season. There’s two camera people, and sometimes we just go outside with our iPhones and just shoot funny shit. We don’t even have a driver. Most of the time, Benny and I just have to Uber to the next location for filming.
We like to keep our shit small so no one gets in the way, and then we can make what we actually want to make. All of our homies are a part of the process to make this show, and to be honest, the crew is the show. You don’t need a ton of money — you just need ideas and friends. Benny has been able to facilitate getting the guests, and we have been able to capture some great moments, especially our friendship.
Benny, is it true that once a year you take a bus across the country? If so, have you considered filming the show while on that cross-country road trip?
BLANCO: It’s definitely true that I do not fly, and when I travel, I take a bus or have Matty drive me around in the Tesla as my chauffeur. It was our original idea to film the show on the road, but it hasn’t come to fruition yet.
MATHESON: It costs too much money to travel like that. We can’t afford the gas.
Matty, I know you have a sizable vintage T-shirt collection. Where do you usually shop?
MATHESON: Well, sometimes I have to buy doubles of the shirts I find because I rip them all. Buying vintage and being half a moose like I am, when I pull my shirts off my body, they rip in half. I had this insane Suicidal Tendencies shirt, and it was one of the most expensive shirts I ever bought, and I destroyed it. Same thing for so many others. I really go anywhere to find vintage. Whatever it is, I don’t care. Sometimes I look, sometimes I don’t. It is what it is.
You’ve had some great musical guests like FINNEAS, Diplo and Lil Dicky on the show, and the interactions are truly hilarious. What was that like?
BLANCO: This is not even a joke for the camera, but Matty can’t even name four songs that I’ve done as a producer or artist, so he didn’t even know who half of these people on the show were. All he wants to listen to is Japanese pressings of ambient music from the ’70s and ’80s or Dead Kennedys.
What’s the last song you listened to on purpose?
MATHESON: “Metal Up Your Ass” by Skourge. Also, shoutout to Section 8, out of Los Angeles too. That band is killing it. The new Turnstile record GLOW ON is great. It’s bananas. It’s making the whole world feel great. It seems like everyone is fucking with them, and it’s awesome to see. They actually used to crash on my floor on tour when they couldn’t afford hotels.
MATHESON: Trail Of Dead? That’s some early 2000s cocaine music for people with deep Vs and bandannas around their neck.
What did you listen to growing up?
MATHESON: In high school, I strictly listened to New York hardcore and emo. On the emo side, I listened to Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Appleseed Cast, the Casket Lottery and all of the Midwest emo shit. For hardcore, I listened to Side By Side, Cro-Mags and really just all of it. I also loved Pantera and Deicide.
BLANCO: When I first started listening to music, I was blessed that my parents had really good taste. They were into Prince and actual ambient music, really good shit. When I was first taking in music, this was the early ’90s when I was 4 or 5 years old, and instantly I became obsessed. I would save up my money and buy singles. I remember buying Nas’ “The World Is Yours" and at the same time “I Swear” by All-4-One. I started collecting vinyl pretty early on as well and just became a sponge for different kinds of music. Growing up near D.C., we had a huge hardcore scene there but also an awesome go-go scene as well. It was truly a special time for music in that area.
You guys are such hard workers, but what you put out into the world is full of love and lightheartedness. The content that you make together is so encouraging, with a message to be yourself and be silly. I just want to say that it is a really beautiful thing.
BLANCO: For me, all of my favorite people in the world are those who do not take themselves too seriously. Life is full of a bunch of shit that is going to be awesome and some shit that is going to bum you out. As a goofball, that’s how I cope with reality. Maybe our show can encourage kids to find a way to get out their anxiety, depression or whatever they are feeling through creativity. I’m looking forward to seeing whatever some other kid puts out that makes me fucking laugh or cry or all the above.