Chef of the Week: Matt Buscombe, Head Chef at Berwick Lodge in Bristol

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been working at Berwick Lodge for 6 years; I started as Sous Chef and in 2022 became Head Chef.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking started at a very early age and into my teenager years, where most Sundays would involve cooking lunch with my Grandma – so many fond memories! I went on to study cooking at South Devon College and then was honoured to start as an apprentice at the New Angel with John Burton-Race. I also worked at an amazing French bakery in Dartmouth, which fuelled my passion for pastry further.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The late nights and early mornings…

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, garlic & chocolate.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Our iCombi Rational oven!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I think ‘sustainability’ and ‘plant-based’ are still the buzz words of the moment.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Laziness and a lack of enthusiasm – it is a hard industry and not everyone is cut out for it. With that said, Berwick Lodge is a breath of fresh – everyone strives to learn and it’s all hands-on deck here.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
It has always been British summer time, where all the fruit and vegetables in season. We’re very lucky to have our own kitchen garden, orchard and bees at Berwick that provides apples, pears, plums, honey, courgettes, herbs, edible flowers – to name a few.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Afternoon tea – it’s our most popular meal of the day here. Each season it’s fun to come up with creative ideas and twists on classics.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I focus on what’s in season and available locally as much as possible. Our menu is classic British with a modern twist, the team are always scoping out the competition, researching online, quizzing the whole Berwick team and trying new techniques in order to keep things new and exciting.

Who was your greatest influence?
My heart has always been with the pastry section, so working with the many talented chefs at the New Angel.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
My team – Lily, Lauren & Rachel.

What is your favourite cookbook?
A Day at El Bulli: An insight into the ideas, methods and creativity of Ferran Adrià.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
With our own strong female team, it was nice to see Kasae Fraser in the final of the 2023 MasterChef: The Professionals. With the city of Bath so local, I’ve been able to visit both the Flute and Robun.