Victor Matthews has his tentacles just about everywhere. In addition to being a chef and founder of the former Black Bear restaurant and Black Bear Distillery in Green Mountain Falls and the Paragon Culinary School, Matthews has a doctorate in theology. He teaches Bible study classes at the Radiant Church in Woodland Park.
Matthews’ reach is evidenced by the number of Paragon chefs who work in restaurants in Colorado Springs and resorts around the nation. As well, Paragon graduates staff the kitchens at the Springs Rescue Mission.
A frequent flyer, Matthews intends to open culinary schools in the Philippines and Kenya. “It’s pretty crazy,” he said with a slight grin.
Type A: Check. But his latest project is equally ambitious. Tapped by Derek Waggoner to be the chef/distiller for the proposed Tava House on Lot 2 in Woodland Station, Matthews would have a key role in the restaurant/sports bar/event center.
The restaurant plans to feature Matthews’ liquor from the distillery, a gold rum, Irish-style bourbon and rye vodka, an artisan moonshine based a recipe developed by his great great grandfather. “My family’s been distilling for 130 years,” he said.
The Downtown Development Authority owns the land at Woodland Station, and, to date, has not approved the proposal presented recently by Waggoner, Mark Weaver, with Ascent Commercial Brokers, and Echo Architects. A follow-up meeting with the DDA was canceled Nov. 26 due to weather.
In the meantime, Matthews is ready to go. “Derek is an awesome guy and we wanted to do something new, cool and cutting edge,” he said.
In fact, Matthews coined a new architectural term, “mountain sexy” for the design. “The idea is to honor the mountains but still be avant-garde for architecture that incorporates stone and wood,” Matthews said.
Matthews said he believes in the project. “I’m not in a take-a-bunch-of-risks-open-a-crazy-restaurant mood right now,” he said. “I want something solid that people can get behind, something comfortable and local.”
If the DDA approves the project, scheduled to be presented Dec. 3, Matthews intends to include a branch of his culinary school in the Tava House building. “We have students in five-star resorts all over the nation, so if we had a mountain unit up here, not only would students be in this beautiful community but they’d back us up staff-wise,” he said. “We’d have a source for the staffing and at the same time the students would get real-world experience.”
To top it off, Matthews would use the restaurant’s kitchen for classes during the day.
The Tava House would enhance, rather than compete, with other restaurants in town, Matthews said. “I’ve always had this philosophy that, instead of having competition, you grow the whole pie,” he said. “A place like Tava House would be a good point of growth. The idea is to grow the pot, have more traffic and more people for everybody.”
If it all seems a bit much for one person, not to mention the internet show “moonshinehighway.com,” Matthews apparently thrives on a ferocious schedule. “I’m having a blast,” he said.