Mat Follas, the winner of Masterchef 2009, is seeking a professional head chef and financial backing in order for his first restaurant, Wild Garlic, to open ‘as soon as possible.’
After beating off competition from Andy Oliver and Chris Gates in the final that was screened on BBC2 last night (26 February), Follas opted to give up his prize of an apprenticeship in a top restaurant to open his own in his home county of Dorset.
Now the IT engineer from New Zealand is looking for a head chef who will both lead the kitchen and teach Follas the tricks of the trade, as well as investors to finance the opening of his Dorset restaurant, he told BigHospitality.
“As much as I would love to do an apprenticeship, I can’t afford to go down to that income level as I’ve got a wife, kids and a mortgage,” Follas said. “So the way that we intend to do it is to look for investment to buy a restaurant, and hire a professional chef who wants to take the next step and work beside me and train me, so probably someone whose worked for the bigger names already.”
In the meantime, Follas has moved back into IT although he has taken a step down to more junior role with the view to concentrate on opening Wild Garlic within the year.
“My goal is to open one or two family-run restaurants at 60-70 covers, serving the kind of wild food that I won Masterchef with, alongside normal restaurant food. The first one will be in Dorset, and although it’s too far away to plan out now, London would be the dream location
“We’re looking at a couple of places in our local town and others in Dorset now, but they are a bit flaky so may or may not come off, and we’ve had some offers of investment and likewise, if they come off then we’ll go for it. Otherwise we’ll find a way of funding ourselves but that may take a little bit longer.”
While John Torode has offered Follas his assistance in the role of a mentor, as well as the services of his restaurant accountancy company, he will not be financing Wild Garlic due to a new investment of his own.
The type of food appearing on the Wild Garlic menu will be Trio of Wild Rabbit, Spider Crab with Hand Cut Chips and Sea Vegetables, and Lavender Mousse with Hokey Pokey and a Blackberry Sauce, which won Follas the title in the final round of the competition.
The last Masterchef winner to successfully open a restaurant was Thomasina Miers, the 2005 winner who recently launched the second outlet of her Mexican street food diner Wahaca in Covent Garden.