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Newsmakers 2021: Davidson County native uses a Blackstone, video camera to capture 118,000 subscribers for cooking show – Lexington Dispatch

Standing in a pool while on a family vacation in South Carolina, Davidson County native Matthew Hussey heard a man exclaim “Hungry Hussey, is that you?” 
He knew the man was talking to him, and using Hussey’s YouTube cooking show name, “The Hungry Hussey.” He has also been “recognized” at the grocery store and by his new neighbors in his upscale Trinity neighborhood who have ridden by with their golf carts at his corner lot home peeking into the back yard to see if they can spot his outdoor filming area with its Blackstone, pellet grill and Big Green Egg smokers. 
“It’s wild when it happens,” said the 1997 Central Davidson High School graduate. “It’s something I still don’t expect. It’s crazy.”
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Crazy it may be, but it’s also the reality for the humble six-foot-tall country boy whose cooking skills blossomed at a young age out of necessity but later became a go-to hobby and passion. He’s helping parents all over the world, yes world, get dinner on the table and providing them with new ideas that will spice up otherwise routine home menus.
Hussey is one of The Dispatch’s 2021 Newsmakers — people who work behind the scenes to connect and engage with community members. 
His aw-gee-golly Southern charm connects with the viewers of his cooking show, “The Hungry Hussey,” which is parked on his YouTube channel of the same name. Each week at 9:30 a.m., he loads a new video showing himself making dishes with “good groceries”  such as smothered pork chops on his Blackstone Griddle, carnitas, cheesy grits and sausage and Oklahoma onion burgers. He also dazzles experts and cooking newbies with his smoked meats from The Big Green Egg. 
Hussey’s charm, smarts and skills have netted him 118,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, more than 13,000 Facebook followers and 8,609 followers on Instagram. Food and kitchen utensil companies have taken notice and have come a-calling, turning him into an influencer for their products and turning his hobby into an income stream.
He can simply place a can of Cheerwine Zero in an Instagram post of his outdoor cooking studio, or use Dalstrong knives to cut up his meats and veggies on his cooking show and cha-ching, he makes money.
Worthy Hussey, Matthew Hussey’s dad, was a truck driver who ate too many meals on the road as far as he was concerned. When he wasn’t on the road, he wanted a homecooked meal, something Hussey’s mom, Malinda, could do easily. 
She had surgery when he was a young boy, Hussey recalled, making it difficult for her to lift heavy pots and pans and stand for long periods of time. That’s when Hussey became his mom’s hands and legs in the kitchen.
“She would sit in a chair and tell me this needs to go in this and do this,” he said. “I found out I liked helping mom and bringing in the kitchen.” 
His dad died when he was only 10, so he stepped up more in the kitchen helping his mom. 
He enjoyed the time in the kitchen with his mom so much, he kept on hanging out with her over the years and learning from her. When he was in his early teens, he discovered cooking shows on his local PBS channel such as “Cooking Cajun” Justin Wilson and “The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr.”
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“At the time we did not have cable TV,” he said. “…I would watch them and then go in the kitchen and start cooking. It might not be exactly what they cooked, like they might cook with steak, but we had chicken, but I got it done.”
When he turned 16, he got a job in the kitchen at Skipper’s Seafood on U.S. Highway 64 in Thomasville. He started on the fry line, cooking hush puppies, french fries and chicken tenders. Owner Evans Feridinos took a liking to Hussey, advancing him up the ranks in the kitchen learning everything from how to make homemade tartar sauce to fish and shrimp breading. At Skippers he really learned that making things homemade and with quality ingredients elevates any dish.
He stayed on while he earned his associate’s degree in computer engineering technology from Davidson County Community College and then began a career at General Electric in Mebane.
He married Makenzie Hussey in 2011, and they have two young children. He’s always been the primary cook in their relationship.
“My wife is a school teacher and she can cook,” he said. “I remember when we were dating and she wanted to cook for me. She made lasagna and then she got up and took out salad bowls into her little laundry room area. I heard what sounded like dressing being shaken up. I went in there and said, “What are you doing?’ She said she did not want me to see her pouring bottled dressing on our salads because my dressings were homemade.”
The idea for “The Hungry Hussey” began on social media and with still photography, another hobby Hussey is passionate about. He had received his first Big Green Egg, a kamado-style cooker, and began posting photos of his smoked and grilled meats and vegetables.
For his birthday in August 2015, Hussey’s wife gave him a Blackstone. This gift shook his culinary world. He kept posting photos and started a cooking blog, eventually naming it “The Hungry Hussey.” In 2016, at the encouragement of two friends, he began videoing his cooking escapades in his back yard, then in Davidson County, on his Blackstone and Big Green Egg.
“I didn’t know much about YouTube then,” he said. “I was using it as a place to drop some videos.”
Eventually Blackstone reached out to Hussey, offering him a chance to make money on his social media and YouTube posts with Blackstone. If customers buy a Blackstone using the link on his social media channel they get a discount on the griddle and Hussey gets a percentage of the sale. 
He watches lots of Food Network shows and has a hefty cookbook collection. He’ll adapt any recipe to making it on a Blackstone or A Big Green Egg. Hussey uses the Blackstone for most of his YouTube videos because you can cook a lot of food in a short amount of time.
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“Early on it was hard trying to connect with people in the videos while I was filming,” he said. “All that was in front of me, however, was a (camera) lens. It’s weird to say you connect with the lens, but I do. Your first 10 videos suck. You are just trying to improve.”
His aim is to keep his videos short and entertaining. About a year ago he enlisted the assistance of an editor in Michigan to help with the editing process. He tries to post a new video once a week at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays and may cook and film three or four recipes on one day so he has a bank of videos to post.
“You want to get to the point in a video and keep it short because of people’s attention span,” he said. “I tend to over-explain things. It’s my engineering mind. I give too much info.”
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He had a few hundred YouTube subscribers the first year, but the simplest video of him cooking sausage and eggs skyrocketed his viewers’ numbers. More than 1.4 million people across the world have watched the video of him frying little blocks of Neese’s sausage and scrambling eggs.
“I think it hit with people because of the story told with it,” he said. “I told them how this was a meal my mom cooked for her boys a lot. She was a single mom and it was ready quickly and was filling. People connected with that video.”
Ultimately, Hussey would love if he could concentrate on YouTube totally as his only career and use that to launch other opportunities, such as opening a boutique butcher shop, much like The Butcher’s Block in Lexington and Winston-Salem. He also would like for the butcher shop to have space to hold cooking demonstrations.
“I love doing this, and hope I can continue to grow it,” he said. “I don’t want to become too polished. I want to show real life. Mistakes happen. I leave that stuff in there …. It’s almost like reality TV. I was filming the other day and the wind came up and I have these screens to help with the sun which comes in under the deck where I film. That wind blew the screens off and they crashed. I leave that in there. That’s real life.”
Jill Doss-Raines is The Dispatch trending topics and personality profiles senior reporter and is always looking for tips about businesses and entertainment events, secret and new menu items, and interesting people in Davidson County. Contact me at [email protected] and subscribe to us at the-dispatch.com.

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