Michael's Genuine Alum Matt Hinckley Returns to Florida to Master Meat

There was a brief moment in Brickell when goose prosciutto, antelope salami, and pan-seared Asian snakehead fish were up for grabs.

They were the handiwork of Matt Hinckley who toiled in the kitchen of Michael's Genuine before helming Box Park for a flashy five-month stint before a disagreement between owners forced an untimely closure.

Now, Hinckley, 42, is returning to Florida to set up a statewide cured meats operation that will revive many of the favorite bites for which those who remember Box Park pine. From the get-go, charcuterie seemed to be his specialty and he said to expect varieties ranging from whipped lardo to wild boar salami and cured pork loin. 

"I'll continue using the connection I made when I was foraging for Michael's," he told New Times shortly before boarding a southbound plane out of New York where he's been working for the last 18 months. "For me the goal is to replace the irresponsible meat on the shelves with responsible choices."

He was born and raised in Orlando, where he bounced around kitchens for about a decade after high school. A lengthy, worldwide tour filled in for culinary school. He spent time cooking in Nicaragua and on small, secluded Caribbean islands. He cleaned and cooked hunting and fishing hauls in Alaska before spending a year living and cooking in New Zealand and the south Pacific. Then, he spent a year in east Africa on a small island just south of Zanzibar cooking "real farm-to-table food," he said. "They told us the bush meat was sustainability raised."

It's that time that led to Box Park's unusual menu. "I was trying to recreate some of those flavors," he said.

Hinckley also never shied away from using everything Florida had to offer, including alligator and non-native species. #EatTheInvaders was a popular hashtag deployed during the months Box Park was in business.

"The more wild boar you can get people to try in chili or sausage the better off the environment is because they're so destructive," he said. "We can turn people on to this as a viable food source."

He'll be spending the coming weeks and months securing U.S. Department of Agriculture permits, setting up operations in the center of the state, and distribution Miami and elsewhere. The sooner it's all done the better.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson