New ideas for an outdoor space

Restaurant business owner Matt Clervi creates an outdoor space worthy of a chef.

Ask Matt Clervi his favorite thing to cook in the outdoor space of his home and you might be surprised by his answer: baked chicken with roasted vegetables. For the classically trained French chef and managing director of Fresh Ideas, it’s the perfect menu to serve guests in the outdoor pavilion of his home.

Matt and his wife, Kathy, chose land seven years ago in the Copperstone Subdivision of southern Colombia to build their custom home. “We have just under three acres, so we can build our raised gardens and have some woods to walk around in,” Matt says. “It was a beautiful lot, so it was easy to envision a beautiful home while being close to amenities and the trail. Kathy wanted to be in town but not live in town.

The house has an arts and crafts feel with large windows in the living room and a screened porch overlooking the backyard space, which they worked to finish after the house was built. “Our vision was to bring the inside and the outside together and make it feel like an extension of the house,” says Matt.

Cooking an outdoor chef’s kitchen

Their goal was to create an entertaining space where they could accommodate family and friends, and where Matt could hone his cooking skills.

Before co-founding Fresh Ideas 20 years ago, Matt worked as a sous chef at Café Allegro in Kansas City and the Toledo Room at Lake of the Ozarks, where he says he didn’t realize how much he was learning.

Now, in his own outdoor space, he “didn’t want to feel like [he] was standing just outside in the middle of my grills in the garden. That’s why the couple worked with RS Construction to create the centerpiece of the outdoor space – a large custom outdoor pavilion with a true chef’s kitchen that stays true to the look of the main house. For Matt, it was the perfect space to entertain and showcase his skills. The pavilion features 20 foot cedar tongue-and-groove ceilings and rustic cliff blocks centered around a large custom stone fireplace with a TV hanging above.

Matt loves working with wood. He has ordered a wood-fired grill from Grillworks, a leading manufacturer of wood-fired grills popular with professional chefs, along with a fireplace that will be installed in the coming months.

No outdoor entertaining space would be complete without the extra touches, like a kegerator with craft beer on tap and a wine fridge. A bar and teak furniture provide comfortable places to sit and enjoy that craft beer while listening to the soothing waterfall in the backyard. The kitchen area is finished with granite countertops from Central Missouri Countertops and a granite farmhouse sink with a chiseled, roughly hewn apron and Elkay faucet. A speaker system and Wi-Fi provide easy-to-control entertainment options with the Pure Audio system.

The outdoor kitchen is the perfect space for barbecues and for Matt’s baked chicken, although appetizers and small plates are also a family favourite. The family also often hosts a Copperstone Neighborhood Association food tour.

New ideas to enjoy the backyard

Fresh Ideas celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and in the midst of a global pandemic, Matt is the company’s proudest employee. “With Fresh Ideas, it comes down to one thing: our people. Our goal is employee satisfaction. It always has been and it always will be,” he said. “It’s the key to our success and the key to keeping our customers.” With a diverse base in healthcare, senior living, business and industrial, and K-12 private education, the chef-inspired foodservice company is currently present in 10 states. They took advantage of the confinement time to work more on employee certifications.

At home, Matt finds solace watching his swallow nest boxes and growing vegetable gardens and a small orchard shared with neighbours. Helmi’s Gardens also worked with the couple to complete their yard landscaping and greenery.

The couple’s two teenage boys, Nick and Trey, also love spending time outdoors with their friends, and soon they’ll have another feature to make the backyard more entertaining – a Michael Phelps Swim Spa, which provides power for you to swim in. water without the stress of gravity. For the Clervi boys, who both swim with the Columbia Swim Club, this will be the perfect addition to their yard, especially at a time when they can’t regularly attend practice.

Going forward, the Clervi family plans to enclose the outdoor pavilion so it can be a heated space and remain functional throughout Missouri winters. This will be the perfect place to cook and enjoy this baked chicken.