Matthew Pridgen was raised in a farming community—and he understands the hard work involved in the production aspect of the food industry. The Houston native started in the restaurant business as a bartender at Mark’s American Cuisine, where he was eventually promoted to General Manager and asked to take over the wine list. From there, Matthew accepted the general manager position at Catalan, where he worked alongside Chris Shepherd for five years. Because of their shared philosophy on using small-farm produce and supporting family-run businesses, Matthew followed Chris to Underbelly, where he was hired as general manager. Matthew employed the same attitude in crafting Underbelly’s wine list, choosing selections from wineries that are family owned and operated. Matt was promoted to wine director for Underbelly Hospitality in 2017 and runs the wine programs at Georgia James, Georgia James Tavern, and Wild Oats.
Wine Enthusiast, recognizing Matthew’s expertise, named both Underbelly (2015-2016) and One Fifth (2017-2019) to its list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants. In 2021, Georgia James made Wine Enthusiast‘s list of 50 Wine Restaurants We Love. Georgia James earned a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2020 and 2021.