Matt Baydala (one of our amazing Solo Stove Content Creators) left the big city for the mountains of Utah in 2006 so that he could lead a better life. A self-professed meteorology nerd, Matt lives for perfect ski conditions so that he can hit the slopes or find another way to spend time outside.
We talked to Matt about how he translated his love for food and skiing into a dream career and life as a “Ski Utah Powderhound.” Read below for the inspiring conversation!
Let us know who you are, where you live, and what you do.
I’m a 39-year-old married man, born and raised in Rockville Centre, NY—not to be confused with Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. I moved out to Park City, Utah, in 2006 when I recognized that life in the city and working in a concrete jungle just wasn’t my destiny. Coming out west forced me to figure it out on my own and fortunately I’ve been able to build a life around two things I truly love: food and skiing.
After working in the service industry for 7 years, I ventured out on my own and formed a partnership with a friend and talented sushi chef Kirk Terashima. Currently, we are the owners of Yuki Yama Sushi, located on Main Street in Park City. We are the number-one rated restaurant via Trip Advisor and we have been in business for 6 years.
During that time I was also known as the “Ski Utah Powderhound.” In that role, I provided ski content to the organization, Ski Utah, which promotes great skiing all over our state. I decided to step away from Ski Utah last year only because I wanted to get back to really enjoying skiing as it should be. I still enjoy taking videos and photos, but skiing no longer feels like homework and is just something I love. I still represent Deer Valley and Alta Ski areas here in Utah.
Tell us about an average day in your life.
An average day, hmmm. Well, for one, I really have a difficult time sitting still; I love movement and motion. Normally, I wake up early and dive into a deep analysis of upcoming weather. I’m a huge weather nerd. Then, I take the dog out for a walk, get a quick workout in, and then it’s off to the mountains. In summer, spring and fall, I do my best to climb about 100,000 vertical feet and ride about 1,000 miles. It’s incredible exercise and a great way to spend time with friends as you grind up hill. It’s an amazing way not only to connect with nature but also to build relationships with friends.
In the winter, it’s all skiing all the time. I’m obsessed with snow. From November to early June, you can usually find me at anyone of Utah’s incredible ski areas or in the backcountry touring. Now scattered throughout those days, pepper in about 100 work phone calls and 100 emails that need to be answered. At the end of the day, I’m fortunate enough to be able to love my job and have a ton of time for me to be me!
If I’m not at the restaurant in the evening, I’m probably on my back deck drinking my favorite spirit, whiskey, and cooking dinner for 20 of my friends. Then, once dinner has been served and I can sit down and relax, I enjoy whiskey on the rocks sitting in front of the Solo Stove, listening to good music and watching the sun dip below the mountains.
What are your daily challenges?
Making sure my staff are happy both professionally and personally. I have found that investing in your friends and employees is the best was to have a great staff. At the end of the day, I want to be there for anyone who needs help in whatever they may be dealing with.
What gets you excited each day?
Knowing that as each day goes by I’m just that much closer to the next powder day on the mountain. I know it sounds funny, but I’m pretty much obsessed with skiing powder.
What are your favorite ways to get outside?
Skiing, biking, camping, and just taking the dog for a hike.
Why do you enjoy spending time outside?
Well, for the obvious reasons, it’s beautiful and I’m fortunate enough to live in a beautiful part of this country. But also, it just helps me to put life into perspective and realize that we are really small and pretty much insignificant. At the end of the day, I love to live for tomorrow because we never know what the future will bring.
Have a favorite camping/outdoor story to share?
Oh boy do I have some crazy, scary and funny camping stories. Unfortunately, none of them are really appropriate for the blog. Sorry!
How does spending time outside benefit you and your family?
It just gives you some time to talk, unwind, and unplug. I love it!
Who or what inspired your love of the outdoors?
My love for meteorology. When you’re outside you’re just in it. Most people look outside and see a sunny day in the 70s and say “Wow that’s amazing,” and don’t get me wrong, it is. But I’m most happy on top of a mountain in February, in 10 degree temps with the wind and snow blowing sideways. Let’s just say it makes me feel alive.
Any recommendations on how to get outside even when you’re busy?
Do what makes you happy. Commit to a lifestyle, understand the limitations, and manage your expectations and you can truly find time for anything. At least that’s my belief. While that may be easier said than done, I’m proof that it can work.
How do you slow down and reconnect with what matters?
I love entertaining friends with good food and drinks, and, in all honesty, I love sitting in front of the fire with a good drink and great music.
If you had a motto or slogan, what would it be?
Do what makes you happy! You’ve only got one shot at this!
Thanks so much for sharing your stories and wisdom, Matt! You can keep track of Matt’s ski adventures on Instagram at @iskideeppow.