South Charleston – West Virginia State Parks (WVSP) are delighted to announce the recent addition of Chef Matt Welsch to the parks team on a part-time basis. Welsch will be providing valuable consultation services to enhance the dining experience in the state parks’ restaurants, including both self-operated establishments and concessioned operations.
Chef Matt Welsch is well known for a number of his accomplishments, but the most recent being named one of WV Tourism’s inaugural chef ambassadors. His passion for culinary artistry and commitment to West Virginia’s rich flavors have made him a prominent figure in the industry. His dedication and eagerness to assist WV State Parks and the state as a whole has been evident since the conversations about this opportunity began last year.
“Chef Matt’s unparalleled talent and engaging personality align perfectly with our vision to elevate the dining experiences in our state parks,” said Paul Redford, Deputy Chief of WV State Parks. “His charming background and passion for our beautiful state make him the perfect fit for this role. We’re thrilled to have him on board, and I believe his contributions will undoubtedly add an extra sparkle to our restaurants.”
Welsch will assist WVSP’s with refreshing their menus, sourcing local ingredients, providing enhanced quality service, and many other aspects of running and maintaining a kitchen and restaurant. He will debut his employment with state parks by overseeing the Taste of West Virginia Event at the Hunting and Fishing weekend featuring creative culinary delights from Cacapon, Hawks Nest, Chief Logan, and Twin Falls. This is not the first time Chef Matt has worked with WV State Parks though. A remarkable highlight in Welsch’s journey with WV State Parks was his Farm to Table dinner at Hawks Nest in May 2023. The meal featured six courses, with dishes such as churched-up soup beans w/cornbread dust, spicy sweet pickled onions, and candied lardon and spring salad with ramp marinated feta dressing, all incorporating locally sourced ingredients.
“I aim to be the best resource for WV State Parks, but I certainly don’t know everything,” said Chef Matt. “I’ve been fortunate to gather a wealth of experiences and a network of culinary professionals. I can promise that if I don’t have the answer I will either find it, or I will give my best educated guess – and we will work through it from there.”
Born and raised in Marshall County, Welsch developed an unquenchable wanderlust from an early age, which led him to travel extensively across the globe. As the founder of Vagabond Kitchen, his Wheeling-based restaurant, Chef Matt brings back a wealth of international culinary knowledge and experience to the heart of West Virginia. His love for the state and its rich culinary heritage fuels his excitement to collaborate with WV State Parks and offer visitors an unforgettable dining experience.
“Chef Matt has been championing West Virginia for years, long before becoming one of our Chef Ambassadors,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. “His long standing career is a true testament to his dedication, skill and passion for the industry. We couldn’t be happier to see him step into this role with West Virginia State Parks.”
The WV State Park system aims to elevate its restaurant experience to provide a welcoming environment for visitors to savor West Virginia’s flavors with the expertise of Chef Matt Welsch. Welsch is currently visiting all of the restaurants in the park system, consulting with food and beverage directors, and providing operational expertise to superintendents, managers and staff. He is honing the quality and service of our already great venues to be truly exceptional experiences. The state park team anticipates that this exciting collaboration will enhance the dining venues and encourage more visitors to enjoy a meal within the park system.