He then moved onto The Montagu Arms in the New Forest where, in 2009, only six months after joining the restaurant as head chef, he won the second Michelin star of his career. Intricately prepared with remarkable flavours, textures and aromas, Matthew Tomkinson’s food is elegant and unusual, such as his signature dish of Spiced diver-caught scallops with cauliflower purée, cumin velouté and apple.The Telegraph described his food here as “terrific” and his Oxtail and celeriac ‘lasagne’ with baby spinach and horseradish cream as “one of the best starters I’ve lucked upon all year … simply peerless”. Similarly impressive was the Fillet of sea bass with Parma ham, sauté Jerusalem artichokes and watercress, while his Assiette of apples with apple sorbet, panna cotta and butterscotch sauce is described as “the kind of dish that won The Terrace its Michelin star”.
Located in one of England’s beautiful national parks, quality local produce is abundant and his menus reflect this enviable setting. He says: “The New Forest is my larder and what a larder it is!”In addition, the large kitchen garden on the grounds – with its own dedicated gardener – provides organic fruit, vegetables and eggs, which are showcased together with Hampshire and Dorset’s best local produce in his imaginative, seasonal menus.
Giving, welcoming hospitality has always been a guiding principle of Matthew Tomkinson’s work – initiated in childhood, cemented during his time competing for the Roux Scholarship and still being developed today. He sums this up to The Staff Canteen: To cook people’s dinner and for them to enjoy it – that's all my job is about really, for me. I think it’s just what I have always wanted to do. My mum always did that at home. You know, people came round and she filled them with food. That’s what she’s like and I have always held that very dear. I like cooking for people and for them to enjoy it, and the only way to do that professionally is to be a chef.”