Head Chef Matthew Tomkinson | The Terrace Restaurant
Matthew has always been fascinated by the art of great hospitality. As a child, he recalls sneaking to the top of the stairs at his parents’ dinner parties, when he should have been in bed, and inhaling the scent of perfume and steak Diane, thinking it was just so glamorous.
Instead of following the traditional chef training route, Matthew went on to study for a degree in Hospitality Management whilst working at a vegetarian restaurant - an experience which cemented his desire to turn a hobby into a vocation.
Matthew set his sights on fine dining and embarked on a four-year stint at Michelin starred Ockenden Manor. During this time, he won the 2005 Roux Scholarship, a competition set up by the Roux brothers, Albert and Michel, 33 years ago to advance the cause of British gastronomy.
"It’s the hospitality that is the best thing I have learned from the Roux Scholarship. When I first entered the competition and turned up to cook, Michel offered me a coffee and then went off to make it or find it. I’ve never forgotten that. Not many people would have that level of concern or be that hospitable".
The final contest takes place between six national finalists at a London venue who are given a meal to cook in front of judges who, in Matt’s contest, included Gary Rhodes and Rick Stein.
“It changes how you see the industry and how the industry sees you. When you win the Roux Scholarship you spend three months in a 3 Michelin star restaurant. I went to Michel Guérard’s Les Prés d’Eugénie in the south-west of France. It’s like an ongoing, semi-official club because you keep visiting and learning, I’ve been to Tuscany, Japan and most recently San Francisco.”
Matthew went on to win his first Michelin star for the Goose in Britwell Salome in 2008 and then a Michelin star for The Terrace Restaurant in 2009.
“Our achievements help our guests understand that there is a certain standard of food that is served here and we aspire to be the highest quality. Awards are an incredible achievement but it can’t be the focus, guests must always be that. If you look after people properly, the rest will come.”
Matthew takes great pleasure in his everyday work and it’s that passion that will always shine.
"I keep coming back to this whole subject of hospitality, about the guest experience and how important it is to make them feel comfortable first and then the food will follow. These are the lessons I learnt from the scholarship and I draw on them every day."
Matthew has forged a highly identifiable style that mixes classic French technique with his love of home-cooked food. Expect richly comforting dished laced with touches of innovation. At the Terrace Restaurant he likes to serve food that makes sense; food that reflects the year, the location and the incredible local produce we are so spoilt with.