Matthew Trebek is the only son of famed game show host and cultural icon Alex Trebek, who became a household name in the United States due to his 30+ years hosting the popular quiz show Jeopardy.
Alex Trebek has passed away after a lengthy battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He died “peacefully at home” while “surrounded by family and friends” on November 8, 2020, Jeopardy shared on the official Twitter account.
Here’s what you need to know about his son, Matthew Trebek:
1. Matthew Trebek Said His Father Was Initially Nervous About His Choice to Open a Restaurant But He Now Owns Three In Harlem, New York
Matthew Trebek opened his first restaurant in Harlem, called Oso, in May 2016. He explained to Fordham Magazine that he developed an appreciation for Mexican street food by going to farmer’s markets in Los Angeles throughout his childhood. He decided to open his own Mexican restaurant because he felt New York City was missing authentic options. Trebek said the menu was inspired by two trips he made to Mexico. “The idea behind Oso was to take the street fare we loved [in Mexico City] and turn the dining experience into something communal rather than personalized.”
Trebek said once he and business partner Nodar Mosiashvili found the perfect location in Harlem, they gutted the place and spent a year renovating it. Trebek explained his father was initially skeptical about his choice to open a restaurant. He told People magazine in 2019, “Yeah, he was not on board at first. He was just thinking of the success rate for restaurants, which at the time was something like 80% of them close within the first year. But then once he came to the space and saw it all panning out and unfolding, and the way Nodar and I were working towards it, he really got on board. Now he’ll come in at noon and enjoy his double margarita!”
In 2019, Trebek expanded with two more establishments. Lucille’s is a coffee shop, cocktail bar and event space. A take-out pizza shop called Pizza By Lucille’s is located next door. The restaurant is named after Matthew Trebek’s grandmother, Lucille.
2. Trebek Says He Was Drawn to the Hospitality Industry In Part Due to the Sense of Community & Now Hosts a Weekly Soup Kitchen
Trebek graduated from Fordham University in 2013. According to his LinkedIn profile, he majored in communications and business. But his side job as a bartender ultimately had a bigger impact on his choice of career. He even honed his skills as a mixologist by attending the National Bartenders School in 2011.
Trebek explained to Fordham Magazine that he was inspired to pursue a career in the hospitality industry after working at a restaurant called Willow Road in Chelsea. In addition to serving drinks at the bar, Trebek began learning about restaurant design by going to work for the contractor who had designed Willow Road. Trebek told the magazine he loved the idea of becoming a restauranteur because he could pursue a wide range of interests. “It’s great because it’s very free form in that it allows you to venture out into so many different fields: design, food, drinks, music, graphic design, and even just talking to people.”
Trebek added that he always wanted his business to become part of the community. He and his business partners now give back by hosting a weekly soup kitchen, called Lucille’s Family Meal, in Harlem. Trebek’s mother, Jean, spotlighted the initiative on her website, InsideWink, in February 2020. In the piece, he explained that part of the goal was to create a unique experience for the guests.
At the church, we aim to give guests a more dignified dining experience through creating a dining room like you would find in any restaurant. Ten large tables with ten seats are dressed with tableclothes and silverware that has all been collected through the church’s congregation. There is no buffet line, which is another important factor, instead the volunteers from the church act as servers.
The meals the chefs provide, the embrace and conversation that the church provides, and the transportation and organization myself, Nodar, and Alex provide, these are all things that each person does every single day regardless… so it is really about directing that energy to something positive.
3. Alex Trebek Bought His Son a Nearly $2M Townhouse In Harlem In 2015
Trebek’s home in Manhattan was a gift from his father. In July 2015, the New York Post reported Alex Trebek had purchased his son a townhouse in Harlem for $1.92 million.
The townhouse, which was listed by the Corcoran Group, was a three-unit property located in Harlem’s Strivers Row Historic District. The Post reported Matthew Trebek likely moved into the two-bedroom, three-bathroom unit on the garden duplex. The building also includes two one-bedroom units on the upper floors.
It’s a short commute for Matthew Trebek to work; the townhouse is located only a few blocks away from his first restaurant, Oso. His coworkers were also his tenants as of 2016. Fordham Magazine reported that year that Oso’s chef and the project manager who oversaw the construction of the restaurant lived in Trebek’s townhouse.
Alex Trebek appears to have negotiated a deal for the property. According to Realtor.com, the townhouse was listed for $2.1 million in May 2015.
4. Matthew Trebek Attended the Same School Since Kindergarten & Played Football
Matthew Trebek was born in February 1991 and spent his childhood in southern California. He attended Campbell Hall, an Episcopalian day school, beginning in kindergarten and graduated as part of the class of 2009. The school is located in Studio City, a neighborhood near Hollywood in Los Angeles.
Trebek played football, baseball and soccer during his high school years. According to MaxPreps.com, Trebek had grown to 6’4″ by his senior year and played in the wide receiver and free safety positions on the football team.
In an alumni interview in 2017, Trebek admitted that he had been a bit of a “rascal” as a young student but that he could never get anything past his 8th grade Spanish teacher, Mrs. Pozzi. He credited her for giving him “great life advice along with just old-fashioned good conversation.” Trebek also described the school as his “second home” and his former classmates as “like family,” especially the ones he had known since kindergarten.
Trebek credited Campbell Hall for teaching him about the importance of contributing to the community, especially when he served as a “senior mentor” to younger students. Trebek added that during his time at Campbell, one of his favorite classes had been a ceramics class.
5. Matthew Trebek Said His Father Attended All of His Paintball Tournaments
Alex Trebek’s children created a special Father’s Day message for him in 2020. They shared memories about Alex in an article for InsideWink, Jean Trebek’s website. In the feature, Matthew shared that his father was always excited to attend his sporting events. “There are many good memories, but I really loved it when my Dad would come to all of my paintball tournaments with me… although it was a very unique sport, he still got very enthusiastic about watching and learning the game.”
Matthew Trebek suggested that he learned how to fix things around the house from his father. When asked how he and Alex are alike, Matthew responded, “We both tend to be discerning when it comes to sharing our feelings and I think we’re both very capable in taking care of most household repairs.” His sister, Emily, touched on her father’s skills as well. “I always call him if I have an issue around the house and he’ll be over within the hour with the perfect tool!”
Matthew Trebek has said he used to attend Jeopardy tapings during his childhood. He told the New York Post in 2016 that the game show had a family feel which inspired him in his own career. He explained he strived to make his restaurant’s small staff feel like a family.
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