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Favorite Fantasy Football Rookies to Target ('23) + A Blazin' Recipe

Fantasy Kitchen: Chef Matt Ward

by Dave Stewart

“The Fantasy Kitchen” is a column by Dave Stewart offering mouthwatering recipes for your kitchen and tantalizing fantasy football insights to keep you going through the NFL offseason. In this edition, Dave spotlights chef Matt Ward, his fried buffalo chicken eggs benedict recipe and their favorite fantasy football rookies for 2023.

Value is a key concept in life and one that fantasy football managers tend to think about a lot. Everybody wants to find a deal. People like to feel like they have gotten their money’s worth.

To Chef Matt Ward, 32, of Vancouver, value is a key component of his everyday life. Highly trained and talented, Matt has experience in high-end establishments and uses his knowledge and expertise to provide epicureans with a unique experience.

A Chop Off the Old Block

Matt’s culinary journey began at age 11 in his aunt’s family diner in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. He joked that he was offered the role as an alternative to childcare.

Matt is the director of content at BRoto Fantasy Football and Content Manager at Dynasty Football Factory.

“It was free babysitting, and then we’ll give Matt $200 dollars a week to clean the bathrooms and cut some potatoes,” Matt said in an April 30 interview.

Feeling that a diner environment lacked creativity, Matt did not expect the experience to start him on his way to becoming a professional chef. He moved to his current home city of Vancouver as a 19-year-old. With his only work experience being in the restaurant industry, he took a job in a French fine dining establishment. At this point, his thoughts about his future career began to take shape.

“That’s kind of when it really sparked,” Matt said. “Once I met other people that genuinely took it as an art and a creative outlet.”

Still, a fondness for a diner atmosphere developed all those years before in his aunt’s business called to Matt. It brought him to Yolks, one of Vancouver’s most popular brunch locales. He brought along his fine dining mentality to bring something different to the table and to do so at a lower cost than one associated with a fine dining experience.

The Price Behind Fine Dining

Appreciative of the talent and experience required to be employed in an upper-scale kitchen, Matt lamented the inflated cost to the consumer. He explained some of the reasons for the high cost of the product:

“A lot of it comes down to food waste because everything has to be perfectly cut and perfectly sized, and in nature, things don’t grow that way.”

Confident in his ability, Matt found himself, once again, at home creating beautiful breakfast plates at a more approachable cost.

“Brunch is my favorite thing,” Matt said. “Eggs, omelets, those are my favorite things to make and my favorite things to eat.”

Yolks offers more than just your standard brunch items, such as Fried Chicken and Waffle Benedict.

“Five-star quality food at $18 per plate,” Matt said.

Leader, Teacher, Chef

He is also eager to share his knowledge. As a leader in a professional kitchen, Matt has a role of a mentor and teacher to other kitchen staff members. To be effective, he has to tailor his approach to help his coworkers reach their potential.

“Everybody learns differently,” Matt said. “so it comes down to leadership. Finding the point at where they are failing and working through things step by step until they are confident with each technique.”

He also shared pointers for the aspiring home cook. He prioritized cleanliness and organization to use as a base for improvement in the home kitchen:

Yolks is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST.

“It seems so daunting to make something that has 15 ingredients when you’re thinking of the cleanup afterward. It seems really difficult to be organized when you’re in a really small household kitchen.”

Matt explained that with preparation, it will make your time much easier and help you improve your ability in your own kitchen. Matt urges home cooks who may feel overwhelmed to simplify and make a checklist for creating a meal.

“It also comes down to understanding yourself,” Matt said. “Don’t try too much. Slowly work your way up the process of difficulty.”

Walk before you run, my friends. But Matt did not want to deter burgeoning cooks from trying new things.

“You’ll be surprised with what you can accomplish if you just attempt it,” Matt said. “That’s kind of a blanket statement in life, but also in the kitchen.”

If you feel ready to try something new, Matt shared one of his favorite recipes to create in your kitchen, his fried buffalo chicken eggs benedict.

Fried Buffalo Chicken Eggs Benedict Recipe

Pickled Cabbage Ingredients

  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 head red cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 Tbsp dill seed

Pickled Cabbage Ingredients

  1. Thinly slice the jalapeno, onion, cabbage and carrot. Mix. Place chopped vegetables in a sealable container.
  2. Boil water, vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and dill seed. Pour boiling liquid over vegetables, making sure they are fully submerged.
  3. Store for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Butter Milk Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 liter buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 lemon

Butter Milk Marinade Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

Fried Chicken Flower Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 4 Tbsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp onion powder

Fried Chicken Flower Directions

  1. Smash your cornflakes until they are a fine dust.
  2. Thoroughly mix together all ingredients.

Hollandaise Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 lb butter (clarafied)
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 Tsp peppercorn
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Hollandaise Directions

  1. Separate egg yolks and place in a metal mixing bowl.
  2. Clarify butter (1 cup per yolk).
  3. Reduce 1/2 cup of cooking wine with bay leaves and peppercorns.
  4. Strain wine reduction, removing aromatics. Pour over egg yolks.
  5. Immediately begin whisking yolks over low heat (use a double boiler if necessary). Continuously whisk until eggs begin to create a fluffy foam. Remove from heat.
  6. Slowly emulsify clarified butter into egg mixture, adding lemon juice in small increments to help emulsification.

Buffalo Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce

Buffalo Sauce Directions

  1. Bring hot sauce to a low simmer in a medium pot.
  2. Slowly whisk in butter 1 cube at a time.

Additional Ingredients

  • English muffins
  • 2 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Seasoning and spices

Overall Directions

  • Marinate your boneless chicken thighs in the buttermilk marinade overnight for 24 hours.
  • Dredge your boneless chicken thighs in your prepared chicken flour. Deep fry for 5-6 minutes until golden brown and fully cooked.
  • Prepare hollandaise sauce.
  • Remove chicken from fryer and toss fried chicken in buffalo sauce.
  • Fill a large pot with water, adding 1/2 cup of vinegar for poaching liquid. Bring water to a boil and gently crack eggs into boiling liquid. Cook eggs for 3 minutes or until the preferred temperature is desired.
  • Toast English muffins.
  • Place chicken on well-toasted English muffins.
  • Two poached eggs on top of the chicken.
  • Generously cover eggs and chicken in hollandaise.
  • Top with pickled cabbage mix.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Favorite 2023 Fantasy Football Rookies

With the NFL Draft having wrapped up this weekend, many players are looking to provide significant value to their new NFL teams. Now that the landing spots for these rookies are known, Matt discussed a few of his favorite fantasy football rookies. I will include his comments along with my own takes on these exciting prospects.

Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, Detroit Lions)

The Lions surprised many by taking Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick, but Matt explained how this bolsters his value as a fantasy asset.

Jahmyr Gibbs led Alabama in receptions last year (44).

“Attaching top-15 draft capital to one of the best receiving running back profiles that college football has ever seen is absolutely phenomenal. There’s no way you can’t be excited about that,” Matt said.

Following the departure via trade of D’Andre Swift and with David Montgomery as his primary completion for touches, Matt feels that Gibbs will be heavily involved in the Detroit backfield.

I agree with the assessment here. After transferring from Georgia Tech, Gibbs had 44 receptions in 2022, his only season at the University of Alabama. That ranked him fifth in the nation among FBS running backs. Adding his rushing totals, Gibbs touched the ball 195 times, accumulating 1,370 total scrimmage yards last season. With 178 total touches the year before, Gibbs has demonstrated the ability to carry a substantial workload.

In a rapidly improving Detroit offense, Gibbs should be expected to handle the heavy lifting, and his versatility will keep him on the field regardless of the down. Gibbs should be a highly sought-after asset in redraft and dynasty formats.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, Seattle Seahawks)

Though no wide receivers were taken in the top-15 picks of this year’s NFL Draft, four were taken in a row, beginning at pick 20. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (JSN), as expected, was the first to hear his name called.

“JSN is going to dominate over the middle. They [Seattle] were 13th in pass attempts (in 2022), and that is going to go up, I assume,” said Matt.

Matt further explained that the addition of Zach Charbonnet, a gifted pass blocker at the running back position, should serve as an additional indicator that Seattle will look to increase their passing volume.

I am not as rosy on JSN in redraft formats due to the continued presence of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Lockett is in the second year of a four-year extension he signed ahead of the 2022 season. However, the team has a potential out following this season. For this reason, I am more enthusiastic about JSN in dynasty formats. He is easily a top-five selection in superflex rookie drafts and as high as second overall in 1QB formats

Quentin Johnston (WR, Los Angeles Chargers)

The second of the four consecutive receivers chosen was Quentin Johnston of Texas Christian University (TCU). It may have surprised some that he went ahead of Jordan Addison, but Johnston was projected as a first-round talent all along. 

Favorite Fantasy Football Rookies to Target ('23) + A Blazin' Recipe

Quentin Johnston averaged 19 Yards Per Reception (YPR) throughout his college career.

“I really thought the Chargers were going to be smart enough to say, ‘let’s get two Keenan Allens instead of two Mike Williams’ and draft Addison,” said Matt.

Johnston is tall and big, like Williams, and both players ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash at their respective pro days. Each player’s combination of size and speed poses a threat to NFL defensive backs. I am in agreement with Matt on this topic.

“Adding Johnston to Williams with Justin Herbert is pretty positive for his (Johnston’s) career range of outcomes, as well,” Matt said.

Johnston is a first-round selection in all formats dynasty rookie drafts. His exact landing spot may depend on your league mates’ valuation of the other receivers selected in the NFL Draft’s first round. I would anticipate him being chosen as the seventh or eighth pick. In redraft formats, Johnston is a great later-round target as he is the most likely to stay healthy of the top three Chargers receivers.

My motto in the kitchen is “have fun.” For me, it is easy to keep. I sure hope you have fun in your kitchen preparing food for your friends to eat.

Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content.

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