Matt Troy Jones, a Lake Nona resident, was recently featured on Gordon Ramsay’s hit Fox television show, The F Word, and set the Guinness World Record for the fastest time of cutting up an entire watermelon: a jaw-dropping 18 seconds!Matt’s story has humble origins, beginning with a simple YouTube video, uploaded for the sake of showing off to his friends and family how quickly he could cut a watermelon. The video soon went viral and attracted attention from producers of The F Word, who were in the midst of organizing an episode of the show focused on the Fourth of July. Matt was contacted through Facebook, and at first, he didn’t believe that the whole situation was real.
“My initial reaction was like, ‘This is probably one of those scams where they try and take your identity,’ ” Matt said. “Next thing you know, they were going to ask me for my bank account number.” But after a period of contact back and forth between Matt and the producers, including a Skype interview, it was decided that Matt would be brought on the show not just for the entertainment of watching his incredible watermelon chopping ability, but also in an attempt to set a world record.
Within the five current episodes of The F Word, two world records had already been attempted. Matt’s take on the watermelon would be the third. However, because of how close it was to the date of the episode being filmed, as The F Word is broadcast live, it wasn’t completely confirmed whether Matt’s segment on the show was set in stone. That is, until the Monday night before the Wednesday airing of the show, when Matt was told that the very next day he needed to leave at 7 the next morning and fly to Los Angeles. “I ran home right after work and started packing my bags up immediately,” Matt said.Upon arriving in California, Matt was given “Hollywood Treatment,” with a driver and personal assistant on hand throughout his time there. He had a dressing room all to himself, and Fox even covered his plane fare and hotel room. Matt was given the opportunity to meet some of the celebrities on the set and see the ins and outs of The F Word kitchen, which is actually inside of a studio and not the real restaurant as it is perceived to be on the show.
Of course, there were many years of practice that came before Matt’s appearance on the show. After working in Publix for 17 years, almost seven days a week in the produce department, Matt had mastered the art of cutting not only watermelon but also the rest of the fruit in the famous Publix fruit salads. Through practice, injury and even more practice, Matt gradually decreased the time it took him to cut up the watermelon and became the fastest in Publix at doing so.
Being in The F Word kitchen, however, proved to be far different from working in Publix, especially because Matt was going to attempt to set a world record. According to Guinness, the organization in charge of mandating the world records, there are a variety of rules that food-associated records must follow in order for them to be valid records, which Matt learned as he stepped into The F Word studio. “All the food from the challenge has to be eaten. There has to be a food hygienist on site to ensure that the knife, cutting board, and watermelon are completely clean and sanitized,” said Matt. There also were specific rules about how many cuts Matt had to make as well as the amount of rind left on the pieces. Matt also wasn’t allowed to drop any of the pieces on the floor or countertop.The stress of having to adhere to the rules that Guinness had set, along with his friends, family and millions of other people watching, was already significant for Matt, and yet, there was one more to top all of it off. “If there’s one person that’s the most stressful to be dealing with food in front of, it’s Gordon Ramsay.”
Gordon Ramsay, the host of The F Word, is perhaps most famous for his infamous swearing and blunt demeanor on his other show, MasterChef. Matt insists, however, the Gordon Ramsay most of us see on television is not the same Gordon he met on the set, instead describing him as incredibly motivating, kind and instrumental in helping Matt relax before the segment went live.
When the time came for Matt to cut the watermelon, he did not disappoint, cleanly cutting the slices and following the Guinness rules down to a T and setting a world record for slicing a watermelon at 18 seconds! “It was surreal to see Gordon so excited that I had done it,” Matt said. “Between that, and having my phone blowing up with supportive text messages and phone calls from people I knew, watching after it was all over was probably the most surreal thing.”As far as what’s next for Matt, he’s hoping to continue working on both his YouTube channel and potentially breaking another world record. Matt revealed to me that he can cut a watermelon up one-handed in just 30 seconds, which he hopes to set as another record at one point. “If it’s in a fruit salad, I can cut it quick,” he said.
Matt continues to be in awe of all the support he has received from the residents of Lake Nona and can’t believe the recognition he has received.
“I had to keep telling myself, it’s just a watermelon.”