Matthias Merges

Matthias Merges

Board President and Founding Chef

Matthias Merges is the chef and proprietor of Folkart Management, a craft-driven hospitality group focused on operational excellence and state of the art design. After leaving Charlie Trotter’s Organization as Director of Operations and Executive Chef after 14 years, Matthias created Folkart: a conceptually diverse organization which includes a number of award-winning businesses. Cocktail bar Billy Sunday, craft brewery Old Irving Brewing, acclaimed whiskey bar and restaurant Mordecai, cocktail bars Hush Money and Spindle Bar, and brewpub Lucky Dorr.

Matthias also is a consultant in the food development and manufacturing space through his company Old Irving Food Group. A longtime contributor to Chicago’s culinary and hospitality community, Merges is deeply passionate about leveraging the industry and his resources for philanthropy.

He is one of Pilot Light’s Founding Chefs and remains dedicated to their mission and vision. Matthias has been a board member since our inception and for the past 7 years has served as chairman of the Board of Directors. A Chicago Gourmet chef and frequent media contributor, Merges and his restaurants have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, Robb Report, NBC, Fox, WGN, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine as well as many others.

Favorite Food Education Standard: FES #6: We can make positive and informed food choices. 

Through positive and informed food choices, we have the power to change not only our own health but also the collective health of our nation.

A favorite food memory or recipe:

Tatum’s Cookies
• 2 cup butter, cold cut into cubes
• 2 cup light brown sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 4 eggs
• 2 tablespoon vanilla
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 6 cups all purpose flour
• 20 ounces milk chocolate chunks
• 20 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter until smooth and then add the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping the sides down as needed.
3. Next add the eggs and vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until smooth.
4. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour until incorporated.
5. Stir in both chocolates.

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