LIBERTY, NY — If you’ve ever been to the Lazy Pond Bed and Breakfast located on 12 beautiful acres overlooking the Catskill Mountains, it’s likely you’ve met owners Jean and …
LIBERTY, NY — If you’ve ever been to the Lazy Pond Bed and Breakfast located on 12 beautiful acres overlooking the Catskill Mountains, it’s likely you’ve met owners Jean and Don Tulp. Jean can usually be found on the premises providing the hospitality that the place is known for, while her son Matt is most often in the kitchen, where he’s been providing homemade breakfasts and catering events at the Lazy Pond for years.
Having heard that volunteer firefighter Matt Lare has been especially busy over the past 12 months, and that he had recently unveiled a new food truck, dubbed “Signal 10: Food to the Rescue,” I gave him a call and asked if I could stop by to hear about his adventures: something about Tom Hanks and a TLC show of his own. “Yeah, I’ve been pretty busy,” he confirmed, “and it’s been an amazing ride so far. The food truck is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Signal 10 is actually a full-sized firetruck completely retrofitted to provide on-site catering needs for parties, weddings and community events. After a surgery had him laid up for months, which he spent “daydreaming about having my own food truck,” Lare discovered the firetruck for sale in Connecticut. “Being a part of the Liberty Fire Department is a huge part of my life, so it all just made sense. It’s 40-feet long and had a 1,500 gallon pumper on it, which we removed and replaced with a state-of-the-art mobile kitchen, all with the amazing assistance of local plumbers, electricians and wonderful craftsmen, who are experts in their fields.”
Like clockwork, he then received a call from Holly Gassler from the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) who told him about a film production company that was planning to shoot some scenes in this area. “They were looking for someone to cater the meals on set, and I got the job.” No stranger to cooking for large groups, Matt spent more than two months creating menus and cooking three meals a day for more than 40 crew members, including film producer Tom Hanks, who, along with a few of the actors, had special dietary requests. “Tom was really nice… I saw [him and his wife, actress/producer Rita Wilson] on set fairly often. At the request of the production company we used as much locally sourced food as possible. That was really important to me as well, so we utilized local farms whenever we could.”
This particular catering gig meant 18-hour days, but he had “a huge assist” from his mother, as all of the prep work was done back at the Lazy Pond. “None of this could have happened without her,” Lare said. The crew appreciated him and his efforts so much, they invited him into the movie: “… in some action scenes, which required putting me in full combat gear with helicopters flying overhead. It was all so cool and exciting to be a part of the film, which is in post-production now.”
As if that wasn’t a big enough show of gratitude, Tom and Rita invited him along to New Mexico for 10 days where Hanks was slated to reshoot some scenes for a different film that he’s starring in; that led to Lare joining them in Los Angeles for even more scenes, and even further into the future: Tom Hanks asked him to cater his next project, “Inferno,” director Ron Howard’s latest thriller in Dan Brown’s (Da Vinci Code) billion-dollar series. The project will take him to 12 countries over a period of 84 days. After that, Lare will go onto cater two other films from Hanks’ production company. “And to think,” Matt chuckled, “all I really wanted to do was open a food truck.”
Lare’s career continued taking crazy, unexpected leaps. The Learning Channel (TLC) contacted him to appear on the show “Drag Me Down the Aisle,” a reality show where drag queens give people makeovers, to escort his friend for her grand entrance following her big makeover. “When the production company heard about my food truck and learned of my experiences catering, working with Tom Hanks and my volunteer work as a firefighter here at home, they approached me about doing my own show.”
“It’s still hard to believe,” Lare said sheepishly, “but I just finished shooting six episodes of my very own cooking show right here in the Sullivan County.” Lare’s television debut is called “Irons Chef Kitchen” which, he explained, is based on his nickname at the firehouse, referring to the flathead axe and Halligan bar that firefighters call “The Irons”—their tools of the trade. “Of course, we broke out the food truck,” Lare said, “and I was excited to have a few celebrity guests join me on the show. I won’t say who,” he winked. “But they’re pretty famous. We just finished filming and it’s slated to debut in late fall. But first, I gotta get to Europe [for] Mr. Hanks’ new film.”
Wow,” I said again to Matt, while preparing to leave the cozy kitchen at the Lazy Pond. “Yours is like a Cinderella story,” I said. “You know, local boy makes good.”
“I’m just a small-town guy from Liberty, NY who has gotten to do a lot of cool things,” Lare said in summation. “A lot of people my age say there’s no opportunity here, no jobs, nothing to do, but I’m living proof that that’s just not true. You just gotta look around and want to succeed. Of course,” he added, “I’ve been very, very fortunate, and I never say no. Why would I?”
For more about the Lazy Pond Bed and Breakfast, visit them on Facebook or call 845/988-7061. For more about the Signal 10 Food Truck and firefighter Matt Lare’s food truck catering, call 845/545-2250, go to www.signal10foodtruck.com or email Signal10foodtruck@gmail.com. It might be a while before he gets back to you, because Matt Lare’s career is on fire.