A Matter of Taste
Chef and cookbook author Matthew Broberg-Moffitt reframes the conversation around finicky eaters and those with food aversions.
by Melissa D. Sullivan

Matthew Broberg-Moffitt has been many things: a writer, a parent, a licensed counselor, an IT consultant, and even a Buddhist Monk. One of the first things Broberg-Moffitt wanted to be: a chef.

“My grandma taught me how to cook when I was a child,” says Broberg-Moffitt, who uses the pronouns they/them. “I loved cooking and I loved baking, and I really wanted to try it as a career.”
So much so that they attended the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. After arriving, however, Broberg-Moffitt discovered that the food aversions they had had since childhood frustrated their advancement.
“There were a lot of culinary trends in the mid-2000s that were very sauce oriented, and I was stymied, to say the least, because I don’t like sauces,” says Broberg-Moffitt. “It often makes food that should be crispy less crispy, which for me, is a big texture and flavor problem.”
In 2019, Broberg-Moffitt was diagnosed as autistic as an adult. They then began to think about their food aversions differently and, as a parent, how to reframe their understanding of their son’s eating habits.  
“I wouldn’t want somebody to ask me to eat something that I have a patent dislike and an inability to consume, so he should be afforded the same privilege, understanding, and grace,” says Broberg-Moffitt. They then decided to write Color Taste Texture, a cookbook with recipes for picky eaters and those with food aversions released in August.
We caught up with Broberg-Moffitt about their new cookbook, their drama-prone Revolutionary War relative, and their advice for humility in the kitchen. This interview has been condensed for clarity and length.
I understand that your ancestor, Israel Shreve, served as a colonel in the 2nd New Jersey Regiment during the Revolutionary War, and had a feud with George Washington.

Yes, they hated each other. Evidently, it stems from the fact that, first, Israel was drummed out of the Continental Army. Ostensibly, the reason given was that he was too heavy for his horse to carry him. But really, he had taken over after a mutiny of a fort, and he had written to Washington saying, “These soldiers are on the brink of turning on you, and you need to send reinforcements.” That was seen as a failure of his, even though he was inheriting a poor morale situation. Then, after the war, Israel leased a huge amount of land [in Fayette County, Pennsylvania], about a thousand acres, from Washington and then refused to pay because, again ostensibly, Israel felt Washington had misrepresented his end of the bargain. In one of the last correspondences between George Washington and Israel, George Washington says, “If you were not a fellow officer from the Revolutionary Army, I would sue you.”
In your book Color Taste Texture, you say you hope that a radical, enthusiastic acceptance of food aversion will help reframe certain experiences. What do you mean by that?
Part of my background is in behavioral science, and I believe that food-related trauma is extremely significant—that it carries a heavy burden into life and later in life, partly because food is a necessity for life. If you believe that something that is essential for life and your approach to it is wrong integrally, what kind of shame do you carry forth from that? I know my life would have been different had I not been forced to sit at the table when I was at my uncle’s until I could clean the plate. I was often ridiculed by parents of friends or my other friends just because I have very selective tastes and food. I feel that if, if that’s embraced, and approached in a different way, that it could have a lasting impact on a person’s life.
Tell me what you mean by “There are no heroes in the kitchen.”
It’s a dual message. You can’t rescue someone from what they like. Also, with a lot of people, especially when they’re starting to get into food prep, they don’t always take precautions. For instance, I’m missing the tip of my right index finger just a little bit from a mistake from a mandolin. So I just encourage people to take it slow. Nobody’s going to care if when you’re chopping vegetables, if you get down to the last two or three inches of a carrot, to get those last right dices on it. I’ve never sat and thought: Aw, man, I really wish I finished cutting those last two inches of carrot. But I do think: Aw, man, I wish I hadn’t cut off the tip of my finger.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life, August 2023.