Chef Matt Davies has been a trail blazer for Midlands Chefs for most of his professional life, championing the region on the nations’ culinary platform via his support for the hospitality industry and its bodies. After suffering a life changing accident, the much-loved Michelin-listed chef has turned his attention to bringing through talented young cooks.
Below is an interview with Matt prior to his charity ‘thank you’ dinner later this month.
Tell us about your cooking
My cooking is modern with classical twists, flavour-driven, uncomplicated and simple – and with respect to the seasons at all times.
How did you become a chef?
I started cooking at a very early age. There was only me and mum at home and after school I would make my signature cheese and potato pie with baked beans. I trained at Solihull College of Technology in 1985 under chef lecturers Richard Brocklesby and Nigel Duncan. While at college, I worked for chef Peter Inger, then of the Albany Hotel, Birmingham.
After finishing college, I worked at the Savoy Hotel in London and then went to work for eight years under Michelin star chef Andreas Antona (Patron of Simpsons Restaurant, Birmingham). I can claim to be his first ever apprentice! I personally owe much gratitude to Andreas who taught me the respect and the ethos of a professional chef.
Before my accident I was responsible for an 80-strong brigade, spread across six Michelin-listed and multi-AA Rosette fine dining sites across the Midlands. I am vice-president of the British Culinary Federation, helping young chefs develop through competitions and mentoring.
What do you eat when at home?
Home cooking is very traditional for us. My wife Tina is a great cook, we indulge in beautiful roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, risottos, pasta and homemade pies, with buttery mash and cabbage.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
The best chef in the world is a very difficult question as there are many who have become living legends. Respect has to go to original masters, such as the Roux brothers, Nico Ladenis, Pierre Koffman, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Anton Mossiman, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Joan Roca. All have had a major role in our profession. There are many great chefs in Brum but for me Andreas Antona is the godfather of Midlands cooking.
Is the customer always right?
Yes, the customer is always right because we aim to please. But obviously opinions do vary with different styles of cookery.
Share a cooking tip
My one and only cooking tip… don’t forget to season!!!
What was your favourite food as a kid?
My favourite plate of food was mum’s roast pork belly, mash, peas and carrots.
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven would be dry aged rib eye steak, triple cooked chips in dripping with béarnaise sauce. Food hell is anything with sprouts in – never liked them as a kid and I still shudder at them now!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
That’d be sea urchins. They still fascinate me today. Very unusual but delicious.
How have you been since your accident?
Life have been tough. Very tough. It was touch and go in the early days. However I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by amazing surgeons and support from family and friends. Although I can never cook again, being a fighter I am pleased to say I am now focusing on the future, helping young chefs and pushing to support good causes in the hospitality industry.
Tell us about your forthcoming charity event later this month at University College Birmingham
After my accident, I wanted to thank the very special people and their corresponding Charities who helped my recovery, by holding a Charity Dinner to raise much needed funds to carry on helping other people in the future.
I am humbled to introduce some of my dear Chef friends, who have given up their personal time to produce a very special 6 course Charity Dinner at the UCB Birmingham. The evening will provide some incredible dishes, matched with amazing wines, followed by a charity with items that money cannot buy. Our chefs for this special evening:
Tom Brown – Cornerstone, Hackney Wicks
Glynn Purnell – Purnells Restaurant
Luke Tipping – Simpsons of Edgbaston
Jonathan Howe – Lumiere Restaurant
Aktar Islam – Opheem Restaurant
Adam Bennett – The Cross at Kenilworth
Assisted by Andreas Antona – Simpsons of Edgbaston
Date: Monday June 24th. Organised by ‘Sauce Supper Clubs’ Details Here 100% of monies to registered Charities. Event SOLD OUT!
Interview by our partners at ‘Birmingham Living‘ magazine. Hosted by GreatestBritish.org