Chef of the Week: Matt Waldron, Head Chef at The Stackpole Inn in Pembrokshire, Wales
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
7 months at The Stackpole Inn.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Washing dishes in a local hotel and doing buffet prep. I just loved watching what the chefs were doing and came into the industry that way. Went to college for my first year, then did my apprenticeship at The Glen Yr Afon Hotel in Usk before moving to London.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The creativity, being able to have such fresh amazing produce and turning them into epic plates of food for people to enjoy.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, butter and thyme.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Food traceability – every one wants to know where there food comes from, this is massive at the moment and will keep growing as the public are becoming more and more interested in provenance.
Wood fired cooking – cooking has gone back to cooking over fire, the use of water baths are fading out and proper natural cooking coming back.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Lack of seasoning.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love the end of spring start of summer. The abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit is unreal and flavour combinations are never ending and so is the colours of summer.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I love all the dishes other wise they wouldn’t go on the menu, but I suppose one that stands out is our John Dory, cauliflower, mussel, caviar and pickled sea herb dish finished with a fennel and tomato sauce.
How do you come up with new dishes?
As a kitchen we look at what is in season, I’ll suggest a meat or fish and we all come up with some ideas and try them out then take elements and ideas from the trials or start the process again if nothing is successful. We all have to like the dish for it to go on the menu.
Who was your greatest influence?
Hélène Darroze, her philosophy of keeping things simple and focusing on the main ingredient has really stuck with me.
Tell us three chefs you admire
- Gareth Ward (Ynyshir Restaurant with Rooms)
- Hélène Darroze (The Connaught, London)
- Bjorn Fratzen (Restaurant Fratzen, Stockholm)
What is your favourite cookbook?
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Wild Honey by Anthony Demetre.