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Matthew Medure
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Nov. 2, 201612:00 PM EST

Workspace: Matthew Medure took a chance on Jacksonville's food scene and it paid off

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by: Maggie FitzRoy Contributing Writer

People told him not to do it.

They told him he’d be crazy to leave his fabulous job as head chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, to open his own restaurant in Jacksonville.

But Matthew Medure didn’t listen. And he proved everyone wrong.

“They told me there was no fine dining in Jacksonville. That it was a meat-and-potatoes and barbecue town,” he said during an interview in his office above Matthew’s, the first restaurant he opened in 1997.

If he really wanted to open his own place, they told him, “Go somewhere else.”

But, that just fueled him.

“We’ll make it,” Medure told them.

And make it, he did.

Medure served high-quality food, prepared with French techniques. He flew fish in from around the world. His brother, David, was sous chef.

Matthew’s was so successful from the get-go that it wasn’t long before the biggest challenge was fitting people in every night.

And the brothers have kept investing in the area.

Three years later, they opened Restaurant Medure in Ponte Vedra Beach, with David Medure as executive chef.

In 2011, they launched their first old-fashioned burger joint, M Shack, in Atlantic Beach, followed by locations in St. Johns Town Center, Riverside and Nocatee.

This past July, they opened MBQue in St. Augustine, a lunch and dinner barbecue place where the meat is cooked all night long in a slow cooker.

And early next year, they plan to open their eighth restaurant, Rue St. Marc, in San Marco, across the street from Matthew’s. It will be a French diner with indoor and outdoor seating and their first eatery to offer breakfast.

It has been a journey Matthew Medure said he has thoroughly enjoyed, especially since it has been the realization of a lifelong dream.

Growing up in a food-business family, he always knew what he wanted to do.

His parents owned a catering company in a small Pennsylvania town outside of Pittsburgh. It is still a family-run operation.

Medure began pitching in when he was 11, working hard and putting in long hours from a young age. Which he still does.

“But it still doesn’t seem like work,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a chore. I’m used to it.”

With eight restaurants and 400 employees, Medure’s days are now mostly devoted to his duties as CEO, although he tries to stay involved with the food and people sides of the business as much as possible.

He bought the building where Matthew’s is located 10 years ago and the second floor now houses the business’ offices. It’s a short walk downstairs to the restaurant and across the street to Rue St. Marc.

Medure’s first love is cooking. “And what I love the most, I do the least now,” he said.

He said he enjoys what he does but hopes one day to find someone to take over the duties he’s handling now.

“And let me get back to my true love — creating great food,” he said.

Medure began creating great food when he was 14, when he started his own sausage-making business in the family’s catering kitchen.

After school he would make sausage from scratch using a longtime family recipe and his father sold it the next day in the family shop.

He kept that up through high school, where he was able to study culinary arts along with academics.

After graduating, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, a two-year program that he said “expanded his world” and from which he graduated at the top of his class.

That led to an internship at The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, where he said his “eyes were really opened.”

There, he met a top chef in the company, whom he observed whenever he could.

“I would just watch him and I said, ‘OK, this is what I want to do,’” he said. “I wanted to be an executive chef. I wanted to touch the food every day.”

After a year, he was selected to go to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where he helped open the hotel.

For the first couple of months, he wore a hard hat in the kitchen during construction. But it was there he was able to really hone his skills.

Medure had free reign, could shop the world and developed great relationships with local farmers, who, he said, “were doing farm-to-table before it was fashionable.”

He loved the Ritz, but after six years, the next logical step in his career was to open his own restaurant.

David had come to work for him and they loved working together, “so I said come open a restaurant with me,” Medure said.

They found an old bank building on Hendricks Avenue where they could rent the first floor. They gutted it and created Matthew’s.

Ten years ago, realizing the scope of his aspirations, Medure bought the building to serve as his base of operations for all of the restaurants. He also renovated and expanded the first floor and put in a full bar.

Now he is looking forward to opening Rue St. Marc, in which he and his brother are partnering with some employees, who will own part of the business.

“It will be very casual and hip,” he said of the restaurant, which will open after the first of the year. “An exciting, vibrant, loud atmosphere with a lot of communal tables.”

Looking back, Medure is thrilled he chose to stay in Jacksonville all those years ago.

“I love Jacksonville,” he said. “And I’m thrilled to be part of its growing culinary community.”

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