— Story —
Innovating and making delicious food, since forever.
It started in Oporto, Portugal in October 2017. We meandered, aimlessly down the narrow streets towards a glowing string of lights, small tables and the din of chatter and music. We happened upon some o’ botequim-basically a cafe. And we ate. We ingested and imbibed. All sorts of plates, marinated octopus with roasted peppers, small salty fish, crackers smothered with butter and lemon, generous swigs of Vinho Verde, followed by a monstrous portion of junta de porco-marinated and braised pork knuckle…Matthew said something like: “this is tremendous and simple-we can do something like this”!
Fast forward to 2018, we moved to Denver, CO. I was Chef de Cuisine at Safta, (Israeli-focused, Alon Shaya, James Beard, yadda yadda) and Matthew was helping manage Kiss n’ Ride and Big Trouble (upscale, cocktail-focused bars in RiNo). Something happened. I supposed we reached a breaking point and needless to say, we had to do our own thing.
So we truly launched Mesa|Terra in the of Fall 2018. It started as fine-dining, private dinners only…but we know, however, eating habits have been changing.
Lunch is the king of meals. The most important meal. If you get a chance, spend some time in the Mediterranean, and you’ll see people going all-out. All of this gorging of course quickly followed by a nap or siesta. With our early success in Denver we said: “let’s pack, we’re moving to Pittsburgh” (where I grew up btw) and move we did.
Here’s the deal okay, we’re bringing lunch back. And we’re bringing it back with a thoughtful, inspired and informed version of the Mediterranean. WE KNOW OTHER PEOPLE COOK THIS FOOD, AND WE’RE HAPPY FOR THEM! We want to share this part of the world, through our eyes and experiences.
We are putting Mesa|Terra’s roots down. And we’re excited to cook delicious food for Pittsburgh!
Jessie and Matthew
We don’t serve processed foods. Ever.
These questions are just skimming the surface in a hyper-paced global economy.
we thought what about catering?
Nothing new there.
Agriculture has been and celebrating our friends and fthe relationships between producers and their families, the abundance of the beautiful flora and fauna surrounding our lives-the entire ecosystem.
In a state of marvel and awe, I decided to launch a dedicated practice to sharing my cooking with the families and community at large and thus, the starting point of Mesa | Terra.
Let's start with the name. Mesa means table in Spanish and Portuguese. While traveling in Valencia, Finisterra and Oporto (and around the perimeter of Spain), I was seeing all this activity. People sharing food at the table, gathering, laughing. And I realized this is where it starts, at the mesa! The place where we nourish, savor our stories, linger with family and occasionally celebrate. Our natural resources, the food we put into our bodies is provided by our planet, the earth or Terra. Together they form the basis of our lives. No ritual has the transformative power of coming together and eating. Imagine a life without I'll be upfront: at Mesa | Terra, I don't stick to a certain style of cooking or technique. I'm not Spanish or Portuguese although I do prepare these cuisine styles. At heart, my guiding force is to create supremely satisfying food with ingredients that are in season and from regional farms, that means in the United States.
I grew up in Pittsburgh. And I knew at a young age I wanted to be deeply involved in the culinary field. I sought knowledge.
Starting in my uncle's bakery, my first learning experience was glazing danish at 12 midnight. I wanted to learn all the baking techniques possible. At the Culinary Institute of America (NY) I began building fundamentals in French technique. Like most aspiring chefs I had to get chops. Though, it was in Chicago where I discovered an array of stylistic choices that chefs' were using. A crucial point in career came before me; my time spent working at Naha and Brindille in Chicago was where I truly grew. Putting out the most polished and thoughtful dishes in the city. Subsequently-through awesome fortune-I started creating private dinner experiences and events at Oak Mill Bakery with IVY. In these events I saw what I desired. I wanted to push towards something personal. In 2016 I was hired as the Executive Chef of The Lunatic the Lover and the Poet, given ample space to assemble seasonal menus, develop leadership skills and teach what I knew to wide-eyed young chefs. The meeting of these experiences gave me the courage, expertise and patience to launch Mesa | Terra dining and private events.