Chef Matty Matheson cooks up engrossing TV in Dead Set on Life

Matty Matheson threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game this week and tossed what he described as a “high ball.” But the celebrity chef serves up a strike down the middle with his new Viceland show, Dead Set on Life.

Debuting Thursday on the Canadian cable network, the tattooed, outspoken owner of Toronto’s Parts & Labour, Dog & Bear, P&L Catering, P&L Burger and Maker Pizza travels across Canada, visiting communities, eating food and interacting with the folks who make it. The eight-episode first season races out of the gate with Matheson and his mentor from Le Sélect Bistro, Master Rang, hitting the QEW to Fort Erie, Ont., Matheson’s hometown during his formative years. On the menu? A chicken finger sub made by the folks at the Robo Mart gas station and chicken wings at Southsides.

“I was just back at the Robo Mart the other day and I told them, ‘Are you ready to get very busy?'” Matheson says over the phone. “I think people are going to travel and come in and order the chicken finger sub.” Full confession: we’re plotting  a visit to Fort Erie for exactly that. Dead Set on Life is the latest project Matheson stars in for Vice, following online hits Matty Matheson’s Hangover Cures, Matty’s How-To’s and Keep It Canada. A natural progression in his relationship with the network, Matheson is hoping to strike gold with a television series.

Those expecting him to sit down in a high-end restaurant, extolling the virtues of upper-crust dining are going to be disappointed, though unsurprised. Matheson is in his element talking honestly with folks about their lives and creating tasty, accessible stick-to-your-ribs meals. Aside from Fort Erie, Matheson travels to Ontario’s Norfolk County, Winnipeg and Nova Scotia. Episode 4 catches up with the chef on the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba, where he not only noshes on elk and bison stew and participates in a pow-wow, but sheds light on the struggles fought by Native Canadians through honest, unflinching dialogue.

“Canada is a beautiful and kind place, but it’s not perfect,” he says. “There are no jobs in the east coast, or I’m on a reservation taking about residential schools. I’m not trying to show every social injustice. I’m a simple guy trying to have a good time, but if some bad shit comes up, I’m going to talk about it.”

Dead Set on Life airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Viceland.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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