Standing in a swimming pool during a family vacation in South Carolina, Randolph County resident Matthew Hussey heard a man exclaim “Hungry Hussey, is that you?”
He knew the man was talking to him and used the name of Hussey’s YouTube cooking show, “The Hungry Hussey.” He was also ‘recognized’ at the grocery store and by his new neighbors in his posh Trinity neighborhood who drove their golf carts past his corner house peeking into the back yard to see his they could spot its outdoor filming area with its Blackstone Smokers, Pellet Grill and Big Green Egg.
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“It’s crazy when that happens,” said the 1997 Central Davidson High School graduate and Davidson County native. “It’s something I still don’t expect. It’s crazy.”
It might be crazy, but it’s also reality for the humble country boy over six feet tall whose cooking skills blossomed at a young age out of necessity, but became a hobby. essential time and passion. He helps moms and dads around the world, yes the world, with dinner prep and comes up with new ideas that will spice up otherwise routine home menus.
Hussey is one of the Courier-Tribune’s 2021 Newsmakers – people who work behind the scenes to connect and engage with community members.
Her aw-gee-golly Southern charm connects with viewers of her cooking show, “The Hungry Hussey,” which is parked on her YouTube channel of the same name. Every week at 9:30 a.m., he uploads a new video showing him cooking dishes with “great groceries” like smothered pork chops on his Blackstone griddle, carnitas, oatmeal and cheese sausages, and cheeseburgers. onion from Oklahoma. He also dazzles cooking experts and newbies alike with his smoked meats from The Big Green Egg.
Hussey’s charm, intelligence and skills have earned him 118,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, over 13,000 followers on Facebook and 8,609 followers on Instagram. Food and cookware companies took notice and called out to him, turning him into an influencer for their products and turning his hobby into a source of income.
He can simply place a can of Cheerwine Zero in an Instagram post from his outdoor cooking studio, or use Dalstrong knives to cut his meats and veggies on his cooking show and cha-ching, he earns some cash. money.
How the joy of cooking began
Worthy Hussey, Matthew Hussey’s father, was a truck driver who ate too many meals on the road as far as he was concerned. So when he wasn’t on the road, he wanted a home-cooked meal, something that Hussey’s mother, Malinda, an excellent cook, could make easily.
However, she underwent surgery as a young boy, Hussey recalls, which made it difficult for him to lift heavy pots and pans and stand for long periods of time. It was then that Hussey became his mother’s hands and legs in the kitchen.
“She would sit in a chair and tell me to go in there and do that,” he said. “I discovered that I liked to help mom and bring the kitchen.”
His father died when he was only 10, so he stepped in more in the kitchen to help his mother.
He enjoyed his time in the kitchen with his mother so much that he continued to spend time with her over the years and learn from her. In his early teens, he discovered cooking shows on his local PBS channel such as “Cooking Cajun” Justin Wilson and “The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr.”
“Back then, we didn’t have cable TV,” he said. “…I would watch them, then I would go into the kitchen and start cooking. It might not be exactly what they were cooking, like they were cooking with steak, but we had chicken, but I did.”
When he turned 16, he got a job cooking at Skipper’s Seafood on U.S. Highway 64 in Thomasville. He started out on the fry line, cooking hush puppies, french fries, and chicken tenders. Owner Evans Feridinos took a liking to Hussey and advanced him in the kitchen learning everything from how to make homemade tartar sauce to breading fish and shrimp. At Skippers, he really learned that making things homemade and with quality ingredients elevates any dish.
He stayed while he earned his associate’s degree in computer engineering technology from Davidson County Community College, then began a career with General Electric in Mebane.
A YouTube star is born
He married Makenzie Hussey in 2011 and they have two young children. He was always the main cook in their relationship.
“My wife is a teacher and she can cook,” he said. “I remember when we were dating and she wanted to cook for me. She made lasagna, then she got up and took out salad bowls in her little laundry room. I heard what sounded like salad dressing shook. I walked in there and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ She said she didn’t want me to see her pouring bottled dressing on our salads because my dressings were homemade.”
The idea for “The Hungry Hussey” started on social media and with still photography, another hobby that Hussey is passionate about. He had received his first Big Green Egg, a kamado-style cooker, and had begun posting photos of his smoked and grilled meats and vegetables.
For his birthday in August 2015, Hussey’s wife gave him a Blackstone. This gift turned his culinary world upside down. He continued to post photos and started a cooking blog, which he eventually named “The Hungry Hussey”. In 2016, with the encouragement of two friends, he began filming his culinary escapades in his backyard and then around Davidson County on his Blackstone and Big Green Egg.
“I didn’t know much about YouTube back then,” he said. “I used it as a place to drop videos.”
Eventually, Blackstone reached out to Hussey, offering him a chance to make money from his social media and YouTube posts with Blackstone. If customers buy a Blackstone using the link on his social media channel, they get a hot plate discount and Hussey gets a percentage of the sale,
He watches many Food Network shows and has a collection of cookbooks. It will adapt any recipe to make it on a Blackstone or Big Green Egg. Hussey uses the Blackstone for most of his YouTube videos because you can cook a lot of food in a short time.
“At first it was difficult trying to connect with the people in the videos while I was filming,” he said. “All that was in front of me, though, was a (camera) lens. It’s weird to say you connect with the lens, but I do. Your first 10 videos suck. You just try to improve yourself.”
He wants to keep his videos short and entertaining. About a year ago, he brought in an editor from Michigan to help him with the editing process. He tries to post a new video once a week at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays and may cook and film three or four recipes in a day so he has a bank of videos to post.
“You want to cut to the chase in a video and keep it short because of people’s attention spans,” he said. “I tend to explain things too much. It’s my engineering mind. I give too much information.”
He had a few hundred YouTube subscribers the first year, but the simplest video of him cooking sausage and eggs sent his viewership skyrocketing. More than 1.4 million people around the world watched the video of him frying small blocks of Neese sausage and scrambled eggs.
“I think he touched people because of the story he tells,” he said. “I told them it was a meal my mom cooked a lot for her boys. She was a single mom and it was ready fast and filling up. People connected with this video.”
Ultimately, Hussey would like to be able to fully focus on YouTube as his only career and use it to launch other opportunities, such as opening a boutique butcher, much like The Butcher’s Block in Lexington and Winston- Salem. He would also like the butcher shop to have a space to hold cooking demonstrations.
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“I love doing this and hopefully I can continue to grow it,” he said. “I don’t want to get too polite. I want to show real life. Mistakes happen. I leave that stuff in there…. It’s almost like reality TV. I was shooting the other day and the wind picked up and I had to have these screens to help with the sun coming in under the bridge where I’m filming. That wind blew the screens and they crashed. I’m leaving that in there. That’s the real life.
Jill Doss-Raines is a senior news and personality profile reporter for The Dispatch and Courier-Tribune and is always on the lookout for tips on entertainment businesses and events, secret and new menu items and interesting people in Davidson and Randolph counties. Contact me at [email protected]