This past week, we sat down with M Street all-star and wine connoisseur Matt Mellon. Originally joining the M Street family in 2005, Matt has helped open the new Virago, Kayne Prime, and Moto. Matt’s life has been nothing short of extraordinary, hiking the Appalachian Trail and visiting countless cities in Italy. M Street is proud to have him as a member of our family.
Describe your journey with M Street.
I first started working at Virago at the old location in 2005. It was a blast. I sold a lot of sushi and learned a lot about white wine, which I didn’t know anything about back then. I left for a bit and hiked the Appalachian Trail, which took 6 months. I returned to M Street in 2010 and helped Virago move to their new location. I was only coming back for a short time to help out, but I was asked to stay around to help open Kayne Prime. That was the opening of a world of opportunity to learn about wine. Chris Hyndman (owner) led most of our wine training. For the first time in my life, I was waiting on guests who became friends. A lot of these friends would buy or bring in a bottle of wine to Kayne and let me try the wine. It was there that I gained a lot of experience developing my palate through tasting.
What is your favorite part about M Street?
We have a progressive culture of education and excitement that I love. I have seen the company turn into a pillar of the community and watched us transform the Nashville culinary scene. It has been a fun and exciting ride to be a part of. I have loved watching our company, and myself, develop.
How did you end up at Moto?
I wanted to stay on the leading edge of where M Street was as a company; when I heard they were opening a new concept, I decided to make the move to Moto. I’ve been at Moto since we opened in February of 2014. I speak Italian and absolutely love the Italian culture and hope to someday move to Italy. Being at Moto has taught me so much about Italian wine. I’ve developed a knowledge base that I didn’t have exposure to before.
Have you been to Italy?
Yes, to the North in the Dolomites and all the major cities like Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples.
What’s your favorite city in Italy?
Rome because it’s such a living contradiction. It is so modern, yet so ancient at the same time. It was the center of the world at one time. Some of the oldest and most important buildings and cultural emblems are there now among skyscrapers and bustling traffic.
What’s the best thing you ate in Italy?
That is going to be a tough one. I suppose it would be the whole prawns at Billy’s in Manarola, which is part of Cinque Terre. It sits up on the side of the hill, overlooking the ocean. The prawns were amazing.
What’s your favorite dish on the Moto menu?
The Garganelli. It’s no secret. It is as simple as it gets. Italian food in general is pretty rustic, which is a core part of our concept. This dish is no exception...spicy, meaty and delicious.
Tell us about the "Wine Time" program you started.
When I worked at Kayne Prime, the chef who helped open the restaurant, Robbie Wilson, brought in the first black truffle I had ever seen. He told us to get excited about the truffle. I thought, “how do you get excited?” You have to make yourself excited. In a nutshell, the wine time program is about excitement. You cannot have an exciting work experience unless you have excited guests and they cannot be excited unless you are.
On the subject of continuing education, we have started a food class at Moto that was inspired by "Wine Time". This is one of the things that makes M Street so different. We do this to educate the staff.
What is your favorite wine?
I actually served it last night: Joseph Phelps Insignia. I first tasted it at old Virago, a 2001 vintage. I had one sip and never forgot it. My other favorite is Saia Nero d’Avola. I drank this with my wife on the first anniversary of our first date, so it is associated with a great memory. This is what we do, we associate great products with great memories.
What are some of your outside hobbies?
I have a Jazz group called the X-Tet. It is a Jazz/Rock fusion. I play the saxophone and trumpet. Also, I build things with reclaimed wood. Tables, chairs...stuff like that. I love hiking, as you now know from my time hiking the Appalachian Trail.
From starting the educational "Wine Time" program to enhancing the M Street guest experience, Matt serves as a pillar of the M Street community. With a contagious positive attitude and a hunger for expanding his knowledge of the brands M Street offers, Matt Mellon conveys true passion in his craft.