WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Feb. 22, 2018 — Wheeling entrepreneur and WLU alumnus, Matt Welsch, has won an episode of celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s popular TV show, Guy’s Grocery Games. The show involves four chefs cooking and competing in a grocery store.
Welsch is the owner and head chef of Wheeling’s Vagabond Kitchen, conveniently located at the corner of 12th and Market streets in Downtown Wheeling. He graduated cum laude from WLU in 2002 with a liberal arts degree and started cooking right here on the Hilltop, working in the cafeteria.
His Feb. 21 televised win involved a challenge to come up with two winning courses with only $40 to spend on in an episode titled, Budget Wars. He walked away with the big prize of $20,000.
Part of the challenge involved the limited time he was allotted for shopping in the store, cooking the food and serving the meal to the panel of three judges and Guy — that’s a total of eight plates of chef-inspired food for $40!
His winning menu included blue cheese mac and cheese with bacon, and a second course of a pork chop topped with a grilled green apple and veal demi-glace, served with a side of cheesy mashed potatoes. Welsch said that version of this prize plate is already on the Vagabond’s menu, by the way.
Welsch has been hard at work in the restaurant business locally since he first opened the Vagabond in June 2014. Before that he traveled an worked in many restaurants around the country.
What does he plan to do with his winnings?
“I want to do something special for my staff and family, then the rest goes right back into the business,” he said.
Producers for the TV show found Welsch on Instagram, where he maintains an active Vagabond Kitchen online presence (instagram.com/vagabondchef). The restaurant is located at 1201 Market Street and specializes in “handcrafted food rooted in the local community.”
Hours are from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Tuesday – Friday and from 4 – 10 p.m. Saturday. Or call 304.905.6173.
To read more about the competition and Welsch, click here for writer Steve Novotney’s interview (Steve’s another well-known alumnus!).