Helming the team at Charlie’s, the new restaurant at Brown’s Hotel, Head Chef Matt Starling has worked and trained with an impressive roll call of acclaimed celebrity chefs. We spoke with him to hear more about his prolific international career, his passion for fine ingredients and what he’s bringing to the table at Charlie’s, Mayfair.
Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
“Absolutely not. I actually fell into cooking: my mother tried to get me an after-school job as an ‘underwater panel beater’ – pot washer – in a friend’s restaurant. I didn’t get the job, but the chef told me that if I was serious about cooking, to attend cooking school. I was. After the next school holidays, I left and started full-time study to become a chef.”
You started your career in Australia. What did you find were the big differences between cooking out there and here in London?
“The biggest difference is the attitude to eating out. In Perth, people only really go out to eat on special occasions whereas in London, people eat out most nights.”
What were the main principles you picked up working with Simon Rogan?
“I learnt a lot from Simon; he has an uncanny ability to turn the simplest of ingredients into an amazing, tasty dish. Respect for the produce we used was one thing that will always stay with me from my time with Simon. If you can’t look after a radish, how can you look after a kitchen?”
How do you feel about working with Adam Byatt?
“I couldn’t be more excited about working with Adam. His outlook on food is amazing and the way he works and interacts with his team is inspiring.”
What signature are you bringing to the Charlie’s kitchen?
“Hopefully a nice working environment where chefs learn and have fun cooking, while producing a high standard of food.”
What do you think will really set Charlie’s apart from other Mayfair restaurants?
“The exceptional level of detail that goes into the food and the standard of produce that we use. Also, the trolley speciality changing daily.”
What’s your personal recommendation from the new menus?
“I would definitely have the lunch menu because it’s going to be simple but packed with lots of flavour. I would also have the beef tartare because every mouthful is going to be a flavour explosion.”
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