In 2005 while working as junior sous at the Michelin-starred Ockenden Manor in rural West Sussex, Matthew won the UK’s premier chefs competition: the coveted Roux Scholarship. As part of his prize, he was given the chance to work at Michel Guérard’s three-star Les Prés d’Eugénie in the south-west of France – an opportunity that gave him the experience he needed to move to a head chef’s position at The Goose in Britwell Salome, near Oxford. It was here that he won his first Michelin star in 2008.
Today, Matthew oversees two restaurants at The Montagu Arms country house hotel in the heart of England’s New Forest national park. He has held a Michelin star at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant for seven consecutive years, and was named Hampshire Chef of the Year in recognition of this achievement in 2014.
Matthew; why watercress is a local staple for him:
"Being a hotel in Hampshire I feel we have a duty to keep products on the menu that our region is rightly famous for. We always have watercress in our kitchen and on our menus in one way or another. We love to use it traditionally as a garnish for roasted or grilled meats where its pepperiness compliments the flavours. We love it to give a little heat to salads when mixed with other leaves. We also love it when cooked and paired with shellfish, we feel it has a natural affinity with the saline flavours of the sea, its heat is a little subdued from the cooking and you get a little more of its iodine flavour. This soup can be served hot or cold and is the perfect match for the crispy oysters."
MATTHEW'S WATERCRESS SOUP WITH CRISPY OYSTERS
For the soup
o 50g butter
o 1 Potato peeled and diced small
o 200ml vegetable stock
o 200 ml milk
o 5 Large bunches watercress (remove half of the stalks and keep half a bunch back to garnish at the end)
1. Sweat the potato in the butter until soft.
2. Add the milk and stock and bring to the boil.
3. Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat, add the watercress and reboil.
5. Blend in an upright blender until very green and smooth.
6. Pass through a fine sieve and season with salt and pepper.
For the Crispy Oysters
o 8 Fresh Oysters, opened
o 4 Slices Smoked Salmon cut in ½ length ways
o 100ml Beer
o Self-Raising Flour (as needed)
1. Pat the oysters dry and wrap each in a half slice of smoked salmon
2. Whisk the beer whilst adding the flour until you have a smooth batter texture
3. Heat a deep fat fryer to 180c and dredge each oyster in a little flour.
4. Dip in the batter and place gently in the fryer until crisp and golden (about 3 mins)
5. Remove from the oil, drain and season
6. Serve in a bowl with the hot soup poured around and the reserved watercress on
If this whet your appetite why not book a table at either of Matthew's restaurants? Fine dining at The Terrace or a delicious lunch or dinner at Monty's Inn Both are an enchanting place to eat, especially after a walk in the New Forest.