Matt Strain – Chapel Hill, NC

Introducing Matt Strain, this week’s Lead Dad of the Week!⁠

Matt, a chef by training, is a Lead Dad who devotes all of his time to his kids. He has two – Lily, 8, and Patrick, 5. His wife Angela is a doctor, who is the head of emergency psychiatry at the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.⁠

When he and Angela were dating, they agreed one of them would be the full-time, at-home parent. “There was always a very, very, very minor chance that I would get discovered and be the next Bobby Flay,” he joked. “But we knew that was a minor, minor chance.”⁠

Despite having talked about their plan for years, Matt struggled when he gave up his career. “When I told people I was a full-time stay at home dad, people would remove themselves from the conversation,” he said. “My peer group was in the restaurant industry. But they slept until noon, went to work at 2pm, and called me at 1130 to go out. I was up, but I had a baby and my wife had to go to work.”⁠

Finding a community saved him. He found kindred spirits after his son was born. He want to the National At-Home Dad Network (@homedadnet) annual meeting in 2019. There he found kindred spirits. “I walked into a room with 110 dads and not one asked me what I did for a living,” he said. “They didn’t even ask what I used to do. The questions were, how long have you been an at-home dad? How many kids do you have? It was walking in and finding your people.”⁠

Matt is now a board member and is at a place today where he embraces being a Lead Dad who is at home. He’s also begun making time for other things, including training for triathlons and serving as a brand ambassador for Atheltic Brewing (@athleticbrewing), a non-alcoholic brew.⁠

Does he miss the chef days? Well, he does reminisce about his greatest dish ever – Au pied de cochon, a recipe from the 1700s that he once made at Vin Rouge Bistro (@vinrougedurham) in Durham, N.C. “It took me a week to make 17 orders,” he said. “That’s the kind of food you don’t get to do at most restaurants.” At least these days his diners are less demanding!