Here at The Montagu Arms Hotel, in celebration of International Chef Day, we caught up with our Head Chef Matthew Tomkinson about why he loves being a chef, what, for him, has been the best experience and what advice he would give to aspiring chefs of today.
I gained my best experience from working at Ockenden Manor as Sous Chef, I was there for just over 4 years, I had an amazing time and I learned loads.
It was whilst he was at Ockenden Manor in West Sussex that Matt won the Roux Scholarship, the admired cooking competition for budding chefs under 30.
I thought I could speak French when I went but I soon realised that wasn’t the case. I knew how to ask if you had a dog at home or if liked golf, rather than knowing any professional terms or language. As you can imagine, my understanding increased rapidly!
The Roux Scholarship pushed Matt further than he’d ever been pushed before and saw him head to south-west France to take up a life-changing work placement at Michel Guérard’s Les Prés d’Eugénie.
Sometimes the hardest part is when you feel like you’re trying to keep a lot of different plates spinning all at once!
I think a large part of the prestige comes from tradition. The ‘chef’ has always been held in high esteem, and food is intrinsically connected to everyday life. I think people sometimes struggle [with cooking] and are even scared of it.
In 2008 whilst head chef at The Goose in Britwell Salome in Oxfordshire, Matt won the first Michelin star of his career. Then, only one year later and only 6 months into his position as head chef at our very own Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms Hotel, Matt won his second Michelin star.
I love hospitality, looking after people and seeing them have a nice time.
Find a great place to work, commit to it and then put your head down and work hard.
Matt’s career was inspired by a chef, and it was during their fishing trips where Matt’s friend’s stories of cooking planted a seed which led to Matt achieving his A-Levels and then a University Degree in Hospitality Management.
I think you naturally end up running a kitchen as you progress through your career. There are lots of factors that influence that, including income and your own creative desires.
I was lucky - I did A levels and then a degree in hospitality management so I wouldn’t change a thing.
All the chefs that work at the Montagu Arms Hotel!
I’d be the drummer in a band – because I spent the money my parents gave me for driving lessons on a drum kit!
There you have it, our award-winning Head Chef, and the aspiring drummer, always humble and ever passionate about hospitality and looking after his guests. Perhaps it’s the key to succeeding as a chef, not to just have passion for the food but to truly care about the people taking each bite.
The award-winning Terrace restaurant reflects Matt’s passion for food; growing it, producing it, sourcing it, cooking it - and eating it! The restaurant is open to residents and non-residents daily except for Mondays for lunch and dinner. Why not taste it for yourself?
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