Chef Matt Welsch is a local boy who, after touring the country on a motorcycle (writing a travel-cuisine blog about being a vagabond chef), returned to his hometown and set up shop.
Matt and Katie Welsch own and operate The Vagabond Kitchen in the bottom of the McLure Hotel. Starting out catering events, they were attracted by the large kitchen that allows them to prepare foods they serve up from scratch. About a year in, they continue to cater and now they also serve lunch, Sunday brunch, and dinner.
COME TO JESUS
Matt Welsch, the Vagabond Chef, says he had a “Come to Jesus” moment several years ago when he realized that... he was going to have to work for the rest of his life. So he and his bride Katie decided to hone in on what they felt was a life worth living: cooking.
“I never thought it would work out so well in my hometown that I love, here in my home state that I love,” Matt said.
Life as a vagabond has taught him a lot about the value of time and life.
- Provide a fulfilling workplace for employees.
- Hand-craft cuisine.
- Live locally.
- Serve Community.
As for the style of food, he calls it New American Cuisine.
“I think that’s generic enough that I can make it mean whatever I want,” he said with a laugh.
Matt grew up on a dairy farm in the area and has ties to other farmers throughout West Virginia. He’s working with these local producers to prepare the food they provide, because above any dietary trends or food fashions, local food is of paramount importance to him. Whatever farmers produce, they’ll serve. Matt said he and his team are flexible, creative and they welcome culinary challenges.
In addition to the local food, Matt and Katie have local artists filling their walls with art, and local musicians filling the restaurant with sound.
“If we weren’t as passionate about helping Wheeling reinvent itself,” Matt said, “I don’t think we would be as successful as we are.”
There’s new enthusiasm in Wheeling that Matt said he’s never experienced in his years growing up in the area.
“There are still people who are kind of negative and stuck in the past, but there’s an active minority of really positive, excited people. And that’s the train that we want to get on board and help fuel.”
Matt says that new-found enthusiasm in Wheeling is making businesses like his possible. He’s hopeful that a spirit of collaboration will continue to grow.