Meet Head Chef ‘Matt Samson’

Matt found his love of cooking at a young age. He grew up in Kent and spent much of his time cooking with his Mum using fruit and vegetables that his Dad had grown in the garden.

At 16 Matt took his first job in a kitchen at a local pub.  While working with the owner to send out good simple homemade food, Matt started to enjoy the atmosphere of a professional kitchen.

Following three years at Thanet College and working weekends and evenings at Eastwell Manor, Ashford, Kent; Matt decided to move, with his partner Samantha, to North Yorkshire. With the help of Head Chef Neil Wiggins Matt got the chance of a trial with Michael Wignall in the Burlington at the Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey. The journey from Kent to Yorkshire took about 6 hours, but after the long trip and a hard day in the kitchen Mike Wignall offered Matt the role of Demi Chef de Partie. This was a big jump from Commis in a two-rosette restaurant to Mike’s four rosette, one Michelin starred establishment.

Working for Mike meant perfection was the only option and consistency was key. After 6 months of hard work Matt was all set to go home back to Kent, that was until Mike promoted him to Chef De Partie running garnish. This experience set the tone for Matt’s career; striving for excellence and developing his personal flavour.

Matt continued to develop his passion and his focus on quality with Michelin starred chefs Steve Smith (The Burlington) and Simon Gueller (The Box tree), before returning to the south coast where he took up the position of Senior Chef de Partie at Amberly Castle under James Duggan and later Junior Sous Chef under Robbie Jenks. This is where Matt was able to take part in guest chef nights with Michael Caines.

After three years at Amberly Matt was looking for his next challenge, he was offered the opportunity to chat to Nick Galer who was taking over the Miller at Mansfield in Goring, which at the time was very dark and had a bad reputation. However, Nick’s enthusiasm for food and his vision for the future was contagious. When Nick offered Matt a job he knew this was going to be his home for the next few years, even though it meant living in separate counties from his wife Samantha. Matt was there from the beginning painting, cleaning and physically building the kitchen. The Miller became a family. Nick taught Matt the need for positivity in the kitchen even when the chips are down and to always strive for the best. Here Matt’s ability and understanding of how to build a successful team and develop his fellow chefs flourished; Matt became a teacher of sorts and established good managerial skills.

After leaving the Miller Matt took on a new challenge as Sous Chef at the 5-star Cliveden House Hotel under Executive Chef Andre Garret MCA. This roll was different to anything Matt had taken on before as it was a lot bigger brigade, 29 chefs, with a busy restaurant and lots of functions. This gave him the opportunity to improve his ability to organise workloads and implement supporting systems.

Matt decided that he wanted to spend more time with his family and took on some casual work. This didn’t last long as the chance of Head Chef at The Royal Oak Paley Street came along. The Royal Oak is Matt’s new home where he’s showcasing seasonal food of his own design, ensuring he gets the most flavour out of his carefully chosen produce while minimising waste, this is where his passion lies. Matt believes that everything on the plate should enhance and not complicate the dish.

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