A native of Orange, Texas, Zoch has been creating amazing breads, pastries and tempting desserts for many years, starting during his senior year of high school when he worked at a French bakery in The Woodlands. “While my friends slept in on weekends, I started work at 4 a.m. every Saturday,” says Zoch. “It’s definitely not the normal way to spend your senior year, but I just loved baking.”
Following graduation, Zoch studied pastry at Houston Community College under Eddy Van Damme, and also did an apprenticeship at Andre’s Pastry Shop & Cafe. He then moved to Houston Country Club and worked for two years with Master Chef Fritz Gitschner and alongside pastry chef Chris Leung. Zoch moved to Hubbell & Hudson to be head baker, creating all of the breads, pastries and desserts for the boutique grocery. After a short time in Virginia helping a friend to open a pastry shop, Zoch returned to Houston and joined the Prego family in late August 2012 where he was pastry chef.
While he still likes to bake, at Third Coast, Zoch is chef de cuisine which allows him to show his skills on the savory side of the menu. But, he admits, “I am a chocolate freak,” and if he had to pick one favorite dessert he says, “I crave chocolate ice cream.”
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s a little embarrassing, but as a kid I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. It has a lot to do with my favorite movie at that time – “Free Willy” – but I have also always had a connection with the ocean.
How did you learn to cook?
My first job was at Paris Café at the age of 15, so really I learned to cook by simply working in the industry. I have tried to shadow and learn from every chef that I have worked under, and I have accumulated a ton of cookbooks.
What ingredient can you not live without and why?
Salt, because it is the key to bringing out flavor.
What utensil can you not live without?
My trusty chef’s knife. It is pretty much the workhorse in my kitchen. It allows me to do everything from breaking down a whole chicken, filleting fish, and doing fine work such as julienning vegetables.
Favorite affordable wine?
I am not much of a wine drinker, but I love a good beer. My favorite is the Yellow Rose IPA from Lone Pint Brewery in Magnolia. Drink local beer!
What is your comfort food?
My go-to comfort food is most definitely a good old-fashioned jalapeno burger.
Is there a food you won’t eat?
That’s hard to answer because I’m open to trying everything. If I had to pick, it would be tripe; I am not a fan of the texture.
What is your favorite chef and restaurant?
Trong Nguyen of Crawfish and Noodles. Vietnamese crawfish is probably the greatest thing you can eat in life and no one does it better.
What do you see as the next food trend?
Self-sustainable restaurants. With eco-friendly sustainability and the rise of hydroponics, restaurants have the ability to grow their own produce in a smaller amount of space.
What would people be surprised to find in your home refrigerator?
I would have to say meal preps. I spend Sunday prepping both juices and lunch for the week. I am currently training for a few triathlons and the Houston Chevron Marathon so I need to make sure I refuel before I get to work and am surrounded by food.
You have 10 bucks until payday. What meal would you make with it?
I would probably make myself a nice, big pot of slow-cooked barbacoa and would indulge in tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
6550 Bertner Avenue
6th Floor, Houston Texas 77030
Instagram: @thirdcoasthouston @matt_zoch