Chef of the Week: Chris Woodford, Head Chef at Chotto Matte in Soho

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
This time around, I have been with Chotto Matte for almost 4 years. I was also a part of the original opening team when the brand launched and helped with the initial menu development alongside Founder Kurt Zdesar and Executive Chef Jordan Sclare.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I started aged 14 in a local family run restaurant as a part time role, and grew from there. My passion comes from my parents, growing up dinner was always a family affair, with such fond memories. My dad was a keen hunter, and as kids we would all help with preparing whatever it was that he bought home.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The socially diverse people I work with and learning about food from other cultures. You’re always exposed to new ideas and no two days are ever the same!

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Soy sauce, coriander and chilli.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
It has to be my chef’s knife.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I have noticed the rising demand for local sustainable produce, more now than ever. Consumers are becoming a lot more conscious about ingredients used and their journey to the plate. Bingsu, the Korean shaved ice cream is something that’s also having its moment!

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
I think overconfidence is something that can let chefs down, often they’re in a rush to achieve their goals, some need a bit more patience.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Winter, you just can’t beat British game season!

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Braised beef cheek with sweet truffle soy. It’s the first recipe I had printed in a cook book and a crowd pleaser when entertaining friends and family.

How do you come up with new dishes?
It’s a real process. It takes time, bouncing ideas off other chefs, getting inspired and experimenting with ingredients to perfect the contrast of flavours.

Who was your greatest influence?
I hate to say it, but if it wasn’t for my brother I would not have pursued a career in the kitchen.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Raymond Blanc, Nobu Matsuhisa and Virgilio Martinez.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Way too many to pick a favourite!

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The Muddy Duck at Hethe, local to my home and recently relaunched. It’s always a fantastic, authentic classic pub experience, with great food and ambience.