Rafael Mateo was born and raised in New York City. From early on, he was strongly influenced by his Haitian/Dominican heritage and in particular his grandmother’s approach to cooking and lifestyle. He has been cooking at his grandmother’s side since he was a ti chovi, or little one, and continues to contribute to the art of being a Chez (Home) Chef, a discipline shared by many professionals and people who share the passion to elevate home cooking into an art form.
As a food and wine consultant, from June 2006 thru December 2006, he has served as the wine director for La Nacional, a Spanish restaurant offering authentic tapas, paellas and terroir driven Spanish wines. From December 2006 until December 2008, he was the managing partner of Ostia, a tapeo lounge in the West Village. Pata Negra was opened in February 2008, a wine bar specializing in artisanal hams and cheeses in the East Village. Recent projects include Barberry, a mediterranean restaurant in Williamsburg. Work continues towards a comprehensive cookbook of Haitian cuisine with food stories from the Caribbean.
As guest wine panel critic, he has appeared several times for the New York Times Dining In section Spanish wine tastings. He has also been featured in the New York Times Dining In section in November 2005 and performed two cooking demonstrations as a guest chef for Macy*s Cellar in April 2005.
As a writer he is currently maintaining and publishing articles and reviews for chefmateo.com, a website for chefs, home cooks, foodies and wine lovers. The website offers weekly blogs and restaurant reviews, as well as wine tastings and ratings.
Rafael Mateo has been an educator for over thirteen years. He graduated from Xavier High School and has earned a B.A. in English Literature and an M.S. in Special Education from The City College of New York, C.U.N.Y. He has also worked for organizations such as the B’nai B’rith Organization.
An accomplished martial artist with black belts in judo, Kokushi-ryu jujitsu, Tomiki aikido and karate, he has also instructed at the prestigious Riverdale Country, Horace Mann, and Fieldston Lower Schools.