Flash-grilled: Matthew Whitfield

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

flash grilled with former Eleven Madison Park chef Matthew Whitfield

Related tags: Chef

Former Eleven Madison Park chef Matthew Whitfield now oversees the stoves at the Terrace restaurant at The Montagu Arms Hotel in Brockenhurst.

What was your first industry job?
Pizza and starter chef at my local Italian restaurant when I was 14.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Tasting menu.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
There was a time when I really wanted to be a stunt man, so maybe that!

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Definitely Restaurant Sat Bains. Everything was incredible and the whole experience changed my view on food.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Marco Pierre White for his raw cooking talent and Gordon Ramsay as a businessman and overall great chef.

Guilty food pleasure?
I really love fish fingers. I have done ever since I was a kid.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Laziness

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A customer asked for us not to play pipe music in the restaurant.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu

Most overrated food?
Beef fillet.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
I’d ban no shows.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Elegant and refined, with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced produce.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Stay humble, be ready to work very hard, and be interested in everything – ask lots of questions.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Marco Pierre White’s poached oysters with pickled cucumber.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
I think an oven, as you can cook virtually anything in an oven, and it’s great for multi-tasking. I can pop something in the oven, set a timer and forget about it while I do something else, whereas when cooking on a stove top for example you have to watch it a lot more, so you’re limited in what else you can do. 

What’s your earliest food memory?
My mum making lamb every Sunday. She’d stud the lamb with garlic and rosemary and the smell would fill the house as it roasted in the oven. 

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I’ve been in a car crash or two but nothing serious, thankfully.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I like to go for a drive around the New Forest and along the water. I find it helps me switch off and relax.

Tipple of choice?
A glass of red wine, preferably shiraz.

Favourite food and drink pairing? 
Tomatoes and gin. A savoury, herb-infused gin is delicious with a cherry tomato or two as garnish.

What do you consider your signature dish?
Lemon Sole with Vin Jaune.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Liam Gallagher. I’m a huge Oasis fan.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Steak and kidney pudding with red cabbage and mashed potato.

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