Longtime Detroit Metro chef Matt Prentice, who once ran more than a dozen restaurants, has died from a brief illness.
He was 62 years old.
Prentice died early Thursday morning from recent surgery, her sister Megan Kler said.
Prentice was best known for the former Unique Restaurant Corp., which was the driving force behind many restaurants in the Detroit Metro, including the former Coach Insignia atop the Renaissance Center (now Highlands), Deli Unique, Duet, Shiraz, Morels, Northern Lakes Seafood and many more. The restaurant group was later renamed the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group.
Prentice was a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institue of America and a native of Detroiter. He is known to have started the careers of many Detroit metro leaders.
Most recently, Prentice partnered with Mary Liz Curtin of the famous Leon and Lulu in Clawson, opening the Three Cats Cafe in the annex building of the trendy retailer’s theater next door.
“There are so many cooks in this city who got their start in one of its kitchens,” said Mary Liz Curtin of Leon & Lulu. “He was a great teacher and very generous with his time and skills and everything.”
The restaurant opened in fall 2019 after a court-ordered five-year non-compete agreement that Prentice had with a former employer of a restaurant group expired.
There is a huge empty space at Three Cats. Matt was a great man with a huge heart, a big laugh, and a generous spirit. He was a great teacher, a great mentor and an amazing cook. We all at Three Cats thank him and are proud to be a Matt Prentice restaurant. We’ll always be serving his favorite recipes and there will always be mushrooms on the menu, Curtin said.
Prentice was also best known for her charitable work, including working closely with Cass Community Social Services and Reverend Faith Fowler, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides housing, food, health services and Professional formation. Prentice, according to a statement announcing his death, created the CASS kitchen, where more than 700,000 meals are served per year.
“Matt taught our staff to cook from scratch. He taught me to recognize hospitality and practice generosity, “said Reverend Fowler.” We are heartbroken by this news and we will always be grateful to Matt for his friendship and talents.
While Prentice was well known for his catering businesses and among chefs, it was his charitable work that he held the highest regard for.
“He loved his work with CASS and it was one of the most important things he ever did,” Kler said.
Prentice became a leading figure in the Detroit subway food scene when he formed his restaurant group in the 1980s. HI restaurants, which ranged from fine dining to multiple delicatessens, were often praised in the press, receiving favorable reviews from food writers.
Decades later, Prentice began closing some of the restaurants. In 2008-2009, Prentice and her restaurant group fell on hard times, Kler said. According to Free Press reports, there has been “a messy series of business deals, lawsuits and personal fallout for the deli operator who had become one of the region’s most prominent restaurateurs over the years. that followed “.
Prentice then sold the business to Stanley Dickson Jr., who formed the Epicurean Group.
A service is scheduled for a later date at CASS, Kler said.
Prentice is survived by her four children, a grandchild, her sister, four brothers and numerous nieces and nephews.
The Three Cats Kitchen will be run by Drew Cayuela and Alex Matoin. The chefs, Curtin said, share “the spirit, generosity and flavor profile of Prentice that will make us a Matt Prentice restaurant.”
Contact Susan Selasky, culinary editor for Detroit Free Press, and send food and restaurant news to: 313-222-6872 or [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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