Born in Baltimore, Matthew Kirkley’s relationship with seafood began on the docks of Chesapeake Bay, where he often went crab fishing with his father. There he developed the reverence for pristine fish and shellfish, honestly treated, which still shapes his culinary point of view.
Kirkley entered the Culinary Institute of America in 2001 and began his career at Philadelphia’s Striped Bass. In 2003, he moved to Chicago to work at Seasons Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel and then NoMI in the Park Hyatt Hotel. In 2006, Chef Kirkley took a sabbatical from work in the United States to stage in Europe at the Fat Duck and Le Gavroche in London as well as Le Meurice in Paris. Upon his return from Europe, Kirkley would move to Las Vegas to become sous chef at Restaurant Joël Robuchon. In 2008, Chef Kirkley returned to Chicago to open L2o under Chef Laurent Gras, followed by Ria in the Elysian Hotel (now the Waldorf Astoria Chicago). In 2011, Chef Kirkley returned to the kitchen of L2o as Chef/Partner, leading L2o’s team to two Michelin stars for three consecutive years. In the Fall of 2015, Chef Kirkley moved to San Francisco to take the helm of COI, following in the footsteps of celebrated Chef Daniel Patterson.