Director of Wilder Projects, Matthew Domingo, has a knack for making his client’s food and beverage-centric work look simple and accessible, yet also opulent and craveable. It’s no surprise then to hear that he’s perfected the art of creating a calming yet exciting food and coffee routine in the home he shares with his partner, Erica, and their three small pups. We chatted with him about how he combined his passions to come up with Wilder Projects, the art behind a low-intervention food scene, and how he makes sure to stop and take time to enjoy moments of intention.
First off, how did you get into your line of work as a Creative Director, Strategist & Food Stylist?
It's a long story, as I've gone down many different vocational roads in my life, but somehow all these combined experiences, including degrees in Entrepreneurial Marketing Management and the Culinary Arts, converged into a career where I get to harness my passions and talents for creative storytelling, small business entrepreneurship, and craft cooking.
How did Wilder Projects come to be?
After an intense year working as Director of Culinary Marketing, and Executive Chef for one of the largest and most successful outdoor cooking brands in the country, I moved back to Portland with a singular focus to utilize my skills and experience to help small to medium-sized food and beverage businesses succeed in today's competitive environment.
How do you collaborate with your clients, and are there specific types of food businesses you especially like to work with?
I work with all types of businesses and entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space, from restaurants and food trucks to water kefir brands, artisan sauerkraut companies, cheesemakers, sustainable fishmongers, grass-fed beef companies, and orchard-to-jar jam businesses. As long as the products and the people are passionate and focused on quality, the sky's the limit.
Do you have any tips and tricks you use when styling, and setting up photos?
Perfect isn't perfect. I always try to set up food or beverage scenes as authentically as possible. Messy is ok. Real is ok. In fact, they're preferred. That said, obviously it takes a ridiculous amount of work and attention to detail to make a delicious, authentic food scene look like you didn't intervene at all. It's a funny dichotomy.
Since working with food is a big part of your full-time job, what do meals at home look like for you and your partner?
We cook very simply. Smoothies, big salads with poached eggs on top, grilled steaks, roasted chicken or seared fish with seasonal vegetables, tons of snacks and dips and sauces. And, of course, great coffee, every morning without fail.
In our opinion, food and coffee are a natural pair. What is your home coffee routine like, and what are your favorite dishes to pair coffee with?
Our mornings start with Ratio, without fail. And our coffee and food regimen rotates throughout the week and changes with the seasons. Cold weather? Some oatmeal with granola, or a quick cast iron hash with baked eggs. Warmer weather? A fancy-ish and healthy-ish avocado toast, or a Dutch-baby, or just two eggs fried in a mini cast iron.
How do you make sure to stop and take time to enjoy moments cooking, and brewing coffee at home, despite a busy schedule?
It's hard to slow down sometimes. In these times that much is true. But, if you make it a priority to live a life of intention, paying attention to the details becomes part of the everyday routine. The smell of freshly ground coffee brewing in the Ratio in the morning, gathering vegetables from the fridge and attempting some Iron Chef-ery to create a salad in the evenings, lining up the mugs and making after-dinner coffee for friends on the weekend... all those things become sources of intense pleasure and make all the difficult things in life not so bad.
Can we meet your pups?
Oni the Mini Aussie is 11 years young - I've had her for 11 years now. She's my partner in crime. Since my partner Erica and I have combined our lives, I now also have Bruno, a moody 13-year-old Chihuahua and Mabel, a petulant 5-year-old Italian Greyhound-Beagle mix.
Website: Wilder Projects