A couple of month's ago myself and Nicola were kindly invited to spend the night at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa in Neston, just outside Chester in the north west of England. The staff at the hotel made sure that we had a fantastic time but the main reason for the invitation was to allow us to dine at the hotel's 3 AA Rosette restaurant, The Lawns, which is overseen by executive chef Matt Worswick.
We were lucky enough to meet Matt when we were down and thank him for the fantastic meal that we were served up. I also asked if he would answer 5 Questions for Gerry's Kitchen and he happily agreed.
Having previously been awarded a Michelin star when he was head chef at Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire, Matt is no stranger to being recognised for serving up quality food and is hopeful that his talent can help The Lawns become the second restaurant in the North West to achieve recognition from the Michelin judging panel when the new guide is published next month. That said, Matt's priority is making sure that The Lawns becomes the first place that people think of when looking for fine dining in the north west.
Here's Matt's story;
How did you get started?My first serious catering position was as a commis chef at St Martins on the Isle, Isle of Scilly.
What's the best piece of business advice that you would give?
Always treat your staff well. They’re integral to the business and vital to success. Without them, you’ve got nothing.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
I’d like The Lawns at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa to be very busy of course. Accolades and industry recognitions are good but success can be measured in different ways and as a chef I don’t want to lose site of what’s really important – happy customers.
If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be and why?
My favourite recipe and one that I couldn’t live without is my elderflower sorbet recipe. It’s so light, refreshing and aromatic. It’s delicious.
If you could only invite one person to your last meal, who would it be and why? .......and what's on the menu?
I would choose Pierre Koffman, because he has a formidable reputation on the UK restaurant scene and he has trained some of the country’s best chefs.
Starter: Hand dived scallops, truffle and foie gras
Main: Fresh seafood platter with champagne
Dessert: A classic British dessert of strawberries and cream
I'm not too surprised to see strawberries feature on Matt's last menu - in fact, when we ate at The Lawns back in July, Matt's dessert of Gariguette Strawberries was the perfect way to showcase one of his favourite ingredients.
Matt will soon be a household name as he is currently taking part in The Great British Menu. The heats for the North West of England start this coming Monday when Matt will be competing against Eve Townson and Mark Ellis. This year's Great British Menu is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Women's Institute and Matt has used his Grandma’s old cookbooks and family recipes as inspiration for his four course banquet menu and incorporated her love for homegrown produce and hearty food into his dishes.
Matt says: "It’s a privilege to be invited to take part in Great British Menu to begin with, but when I learned the brief was about the Women’s Institute I felt a real connection with it. My grandma was incredibly involved with the WI so it seemed a fitting way to remember her, particularly as I never got the chance to cook for her."
I would like to thank Matt for taking time out to answer 5 Questions and also wish him good luck in the Great British Menu. Keep up to date with Matt on Twitter plus keep an eye on Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa and The Lawns too.
Written by Gerry Haughian