Mat Belzano

Executive Chef,
University of Arkansas
Nominate A G.O.A.T.

THIS IS WHAT A BADASS LOOKS LIKE

Meet Mat Belzano,
a culinary rebel with
a killer instinct for
damn good food.

Best known at the University of Arkansas for his candy bacon street dog, Mat gets a kick out of bucking familiar norms and delivering flavor experiences that rival any restaurant.

“Around here, you have to be creative,” Mat said.

And creative, he is!

Mat’s menu includes an unexpected mashup of smoked barbecue from a variety of different regions paired with familiar comfort foods that college-aged patrons crave from home.

His mac-and-tater-tot-burrito is a great example. The gutsy mixture of flavors and textures creates an experience that’s kind of like getting slapped and kissed at the same time.

“It’s a different umami of flavors – the sweet and sour flavor of the barbecue sauce, the smokey-salty taste of the meats, complimented by the crunchiness of tater tots; and everyone loves a creamy mac,” Mat said.

Reinventing the menu to keep up with the changing times and ever-evolving wave of new students is a normal part of the job for Mat. But that’s just fine with him. In fact, it’s a big reason why he is so obsessed with food.

“The industry is never stagnant. The demand is always to have something new to offer and finding new and different flavor profiles. We’re always trying to create and be creative. I love that part of the job,” Mat said.

That doesn’t mean Mat’s work is all cupcakes and rainbows. He’s in charge of 21 dining venues at the university, including three dining halls with up to 13 different menu stations, which is a lot to manage on top of ensuring student satisfaction.

“We’re a large operation and with that comes many challenges. Every year, with new students comes new and different preferences. Plus, we’ve got to be cost-effective while meeting the demands of the masses.” Mat said.

Having reliable back-of-house equipment and a trustworthy partner, like Blodgett, waiting in the wings is a big part of Mat’s success.

“Whenever we buy any equipment, we want to be sure it is something that’s easy to work on, lasts a long time, and is durable,” Mat said. “Blodgett not only offers all of that, but at a great price point and the customer service we need. They really are a great company.”

Photo Credit: Mat Belzano

Mat’s go-to Blodgett product is the ventless convection ovens with the Hoodini ventilation system. Stackable, ventless ovens with the ability to work in non-traditional spaces is the perfect solution for the University of Arkansas’ many diverse dining venues.

“My favorite feature of our Blodgett ovens is you can just set it and forget it, which ensures we’re not wasting product,” Matt said. “Plus, we can use the same oven for steaming, roasting and timed cooking. The result is better, juicier food. And because they are stackable, we can easily fit more than one oven into a small space, which is great for our various venues.”

Blodgett’s hydrovection oven is another workhorse of the university’s kitchens. Plus it has all the accessories the operations need to make the menus great.

“The hydrovection oven is easy to clean and operate for someone that’s not mechanically inclined,” Mat said. “Other products are expensive and not every feature is used. With Blodgett, we have the right features for the menu options we make.”

Running a dining operation as large and complex as the University of Arkansas takes real partnerships, which is how Blodgett is a true asset to Mat’s business.

“Blodgett sent one of their chefs down to show us the product and to ensure we understood how the different ovens with recipes were used correctly. The level of service was above and beyond,” Mat said

Beyond the fun of creating the menus and the mechanics of running the dining operations, Mat recognizes that students depend on him to keep them fed. It’s what keeps Mat going,
even during the toughest of times.

“We keep feeding students no matter what. Even in a snowstorm, the show must go on,” Mat said.

Badass. That’s what Mat Belzano is to the students at the University of Arkansas. As Executive Chef, Mat is THE G.O.A.T., and he only trusts one oven. Blodgett, the Greatest Oven of All Time.

THE GREATEST VENTLESS CONVECTION OVENS OF ALL TIME

Break free from hood systems and save valuable space in your kitchen, thousands on installation and maintenance, and go carbon neutral—to pitch in to save the freaking planet. The Blodgett Ventless Convection Oven has the cool status that other ovens aspire to, because of its award-winning Hoodini ventilation system. It’s simply the gold standard of quality craftsmanship.

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