Q&A: Celebrity chef Matty Matheson explains his anti-xenophobia Instagram rant

Local chef and Dead Set on Life star Matty Matheson has recently stepped into the political arena—at least on Instagram, where he has spent the past few weeks posting about Trudeau, Trump and the explosion of racism in America (instead of his usual favourite subjects). The negative reaction from pro-Trump commenters was so extreme that Matheson eventually posted a video in which he tells them to unfollow. We spoke with him about his ideological leanings, his political aspirations, and why he frequently gets mistaken for a Trump stumper.

Your 178,000 Instagram followers know you as the naked selfie guy. What made you decide to get political? I think it’s really difficult not to get political right now, with the shit that’s happening in the world. It’s so close to home. I have spent a lot of time in America. I grew up in Fort Erie, 10 minutes from Buffalo. Seeing what’s happening is just wild. It’s funny, because people criticize me for using my following to promote my politics. I’d be doing this no matter what. My Instagram is just me. I’m not selling anything. It’s how I feel.

Matty Matheson

The life (and near-death) of bad-boy chef Matty Matheson
Food & Drink

The life (and near-death) of bad-boy chef Matty Matheson

Tell me about some recent posts that drew big reactions. The first was a screen grab of our prime minister’s tweet about welcoming refugees. I didn’t even mention Americans, and then I got thousands of negative comments. It’s very disheartening.

You did add the #FUCKTRUMP hashtag. Oh, for sure. Fuck Trump, fuck white supremacy. The second post was a photo of a button that a friend of mine made. It says, “No Nazis, No KKK, No racist USA.” Anti-racism is something I can get behind. I’m not a huge political guy. I don’t read newspapers. I’m not an educated dude. I’m not even pro-Obama. Every American president has blood on his hands. People say, “Oh you’re drinking the Kool-Aid.” I’m not drinking any Kool-Aid. I’m trying to stand up for positivity.

Were you surprised by some of the criticism and intense trolling your posts prompted? Not really. I put up a Hillary “I’m with her” post a while ago and people freaked out, so I kind of knew. I guess I was surprised that people were making actual death threats. And they were attacking my weight, my character, my son. The comments that blow my mind the most are the ones where people are disappointed because they thought I was one of them. They thought I was this big racist Trump guy.

Why do you think anyone would make that assumption? I think it’s just that I’m a fat, white, tattooed man. I sat beside this drunk race car driver last night at the airport. He thought I was American and he said, “Trump’s the best thing that ever happened to America.” I just said, “We’ll see, buddy.” You’ve gotta pick your battles.

You addressed all of this in a video clip where you tell your racist followers to hit the unfollow button. Did they? I’m not sure. I don’t have the app that shows me when people unfollow me. I used to, but it kind of made me crazy. I did see that I got around 2,000 new followers, which was great. And the reaction to my video was great—more positive than negative. It has gotten close to 100,000 views, which is the most I have ever gotten.

What do you say to the idea that you should stick to posting about what you know—food, tattoos, selfies—and leave the politics to the professionals? I say I have a voice, the same as anyone. I want to express myself. I put up a post about the mosque shooting, too. I said there are two types of people in this world: either you’re a piece of shit or you’re a decent person. There are so many lines dividing people in this world right now, so many labels and stereotypes, but really it’s just, are you a hateful person or are you not? I’m not into politics. I’m just standing up for human rights, standing up for love. As dumbed down as that is, I’m just trying to get that message across.

Could you imagine getting into politics in the future? You wouldn’t be the first reality TV star to make go of it. No way. I would never in a million years want to be in the same room as these people. I’ll just stay on television and cook. I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and if I can shed some light and positivity, that’s great. I’m just saying, if you’re a fucking racist, you’re not my people.

Are you an American thinking about moving to Canada? If you’re contemplating relocating across the border for political reasons, we want to hear from you. Click the button below to get in touch.


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