In a surprise move, Matthew Tomkinson has been named as the new head chef of the Montagu Arms in Beaulieu in the New Forest. The 2005 Roux scholar will take up the post on 9 June, less than 5 months after winning his first Michelin star for the Goose at Britwell Salome in Oxfordshire.
“I don’t want to go into all the ins and outs of what’s happened, but I was looking for a long term project and it turns out that it won’t be the Goose,” said Tomkinson.
Tomkinson (32) will oversee a brigade of 11 chefs at the Montagu Arms and have responsibility for the hotel’s Monty’s and The Terrace restaurants, as well as all private dining and functions.
“I’ve had a fantastic year and a half in Oxfordshire, but I wanted a new challenge, with a larger brigade,” said Tomkinson. “The Montagu offers me the opportunity to fulfil my potential, whatever that may be. I want to put down roots as a person and a chef and have the chance to develop relationships with suppliers and I think I’m going to get the support from the hotel do that.”
The Montagu Arms will continue its relationship with chef Shaun Hill who will remain a consultant to the hotel.
“I’ll be around to offer advice and help and ease Matthew into the job but I see it very much as Matthew’s spot,” said Hill. “He’s done very good work at the Goose and the hotel are very, very lucky to have him.”
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with someone like Shaun,” said Tomkinson. “It’ll be my thing but he’ll be there to help anytime I need him.”
Although Tomkinson doesn’t plan to change his Michelin-friendly style of food, he says he’s not chasing stars. “Its not my sole aim. If you do your job correctly – employ the right people, buy the right produce and cook it properly – a star should follow. The Montagu Arms has had a bit of a rocky past but all it needs is stability and I can give it that.”
Ryan Simpson, formerly of Winteringham Fields and a finalist in this year’s Roux Scholarship will replace Tomkinson as head chef at the Goose with immediate effect.