Matthew Lackey Memorial Scholarship

"A Heart is Not Judged by How Much You Love, But How Much You Are Loved by Others"

Matthew Wayne Lackey (Matt) was born on September 9th, 1985 and grew up in the historic town of Castalian Springs Tennessee. The history and landmarks close to his childhood home were very special to Matt. Among these landmarks were the houses that generations of Lackey family members called home. Loving the very soil and established family traditions of this farming community became one of the greatest passions of his life. But his greatest passion was People!

Matt grew into a young teen constantly surrounded by friends and family that loved just being around him. He developed a unique individual style in everything he did. From his taste in music, food to fun costumes he could wear to a party, Matt would always stand out in a crowd and at the very least, bring a smile or a big laugh to everyone! This quality was unparalleled!

Matt began to reach for the stars. He found his joy and his future in cooking, and growing the very ingredients he used to create his culinary masterpieces. Matt’s pride in cultivating his garden was comparable to a parent’s love of their child. As his passion and knowledge grew, so did his expertise in gardening, canning, butchering and appreciating the advantages of local sourcing. His favorite tool was the spoon (he had a large collection.) Later, his vegetables were picked and served in his restaurant dishes that same day.

Moving into the restaurant work force it didn't take long for anyone to see his skills in cooking, strong ethic, but most importantly his passion for organic grown foods. Even down to the coffee, Matthew used Fair Trade Beans. As a gourmet chef in the growing big city of Nashville Matt was often interviewed and brought them right back to Castalian Springs to show them where the passion began, "right there in the ground!"

Matthew was focused and knew he was on the right track. Matthew started receiving the attention and accolades of the culinary industry. He was honored to be the chef at the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival, and was nominated for Eaters Young Guns 2013. He made it to the top 15 finalists out of 2700 nominees. He was deemed the 2014 Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Star, and nominated for Food and Wine's Best New Chef in the Southeast that same year.

Tennessee was his home filled with family, friends, dreams and ambitions, all good things in life that lead him to a big opportunity, one that took him on a journey to the beautiful state of Colorado. Pursuing his dreams to one day have his own restaurant, his started his path by utilizing the regional-local resources he knew very little about. As always, Matt was up for the challenge!

In Colorado, Matt absorbed and embraced the area and soon become a part of the local culture. He studied other regions and fine dining menus to cultivate what would become his signature dishes and key ingredients for a healthy, organic "Matthew Lackey" endorsed menu and restaurant style. In Colorado, he loved the nature surrounding him, the fresh air, the healthier living style and the freedom to roam the countryside. When it was time to get away from the work he took the time to just take in the beauty of life. Matthew was about making his dreams come true but more importantly he was about LIVING LIFE along the way! Making new friends, exploring new ground and not just reaching for the stars but laying down and appreciating them! His Journey was only 31 years long, but it was an amazing adventurous 31 years!


Matt’s legacy remains and will always remain as we use this Scholarship to help those who just like Matthew, follow their passions. His journey was filled with support from his loving parents and friends. Every dream and every dreamer needs endorsement. Matt's memory will be with us always and we know his ultimate wish would be to carry on his passion through the dreams of Culinary Students who share his dream to make the world a healthier and happier planet. Just as Matt made the world better, this scholarship will allow him to continue to do that by giving “Future Dreamers” the chance to "Reach for The Stars, No Matter Where Their Roots Are!"


Contact Information:

Erin Decker
Advancement Officer