Three Cats Restaurant chef and longtime metro Detroit restaurateur Matt Prentice has died at the age of 62 following a brief, non-COVID-19 illness. Prentice, along with Mary Liz Curtin of retail store Leon and Lulu, opened Three Cats inside the former Clawson Theatre next door to Curtin’s shop on 14 Mile Road in 2019.
A Detroit native, Prentice was a prominent figure on the metro Detroit dining scene prior to opening Three Cats with Curtin. He was the restaurateur and force behind Coach Insignia and Morels as well as several area restaurants over his three-decade career, including Northern Lakes Seafood, Shiraz, Duet, No. VI Chophouse, and Plaza Deli. At his restaurants, Prentice became a mentor to up-and-coming young chefs like James Beard-nominated chef James Rigato of Mable Gray who worked for him at Morels.
“There is an enormous empty spot at Three Cats. Matt was a big man with an enormous heart, a loud laugh and a generous spirit,” Curtin says in a prepared statement. “He was a wonderful teacher, a great mentor and an unbelievable cook. All of us at Three Cats thank him and are proud to be a Matt Prentice restaurant. We will always serve his favorite recipes and there will always be mushrooms on the menu.”
In addition to his decades-long restaurant work, Prentice also devoted time to a variety of area charities, including Cass Community Social Services with Rev. Faith Fowler. Prentice created a kitchen for the nonprofit and helped train its staff, which now feeds more than 700,000 meals a year to people in need.
“Matt taught our staff to cook from scratch. He taught me how to recognize hospitality and practice generosity,” says Fowler. “We are heartbroken by this news and we will always be grateful to Matt for his friendship and talents.”
According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Curtin and Fowler are discussing opening a small restaurant in his name with a $10,000 grant from Leon and Lulu.
Chefs Drew Cayuela and Alex Matoin will now lead the kitchen at Three Cats.
Donations can be made in Prentice’s memory to Cass Community Social Services.