Chef Charles Mattocks is widely known as “The Poor Chef,” creating healthy yet affordable meals for under seven dollars. His passion and innovation took the nation by storm, appearing on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart and CNN, and even pinning a best-selling cook book, Eat Cheap but Eat Well. But there’s more to this Chef and nephew of the late great Bob Marley. Amid the success, Chef Charles was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2011. What seemed like a death sentence turned into a personal mission to not only save his life, but also save the lives of others who shared his diagnosis. Chef Charles is now gearing up for his second national diabetic testing RV tour. A spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association, blue ribbon champion for the International Diabetes Federation, the creator of the Charles Bar, a diabetic-friendly nutrition bar and the director of a major film on diabetes entitled The Diabetic You, Chef Charles is determined to change the game and become the leading force in the fight against diabetes.
BFT: How did you get your start as a celebrity chef?
CM: I moved from Los Angeles where I was doing very well and always had a background in cooking and food. I was raising my son as single father and really wanted to feed him healthy and affordable food. This was the catalyst. Then one day my son and I were going to a restaurant and he said it would be cool to see real people make meals on TV. During that time, a few years back there were a lot of competition based cooking shows on TV but not many regular folks so I thought it would be cool to do that. My mom, grandmother and father were all great cooks. So I came up with the name “The Poor Chef” which involves taking seven dollars and creating healthy and affordable meals for two. I approached a local TV network in Tampa, Florida and one thing led to another. I ended up on TV in Tampa on an NBC affiliate and that’s how things took off.
BFT: This is something that everyone can relate to in just wanting to have budget-friendly meals. Not everyone has a lot of resources and time. From what we saw on your Dr. Oz appearance, you made things easy, simple and cheap. It contradicts the notion many people have that eating healthy is unattainable because it’s too expensive.
CM: For some people, even seven dollars is a lot of money. My parents came from humble beginnings in Jamaica so if you could get some chicken, some rice and banana you can do that with that, so seven dollars is a good amount of money if you think about it.