Matthew Tomkinson

Matthew Tomkinson

Matthew Tomkinson

Matthew Tomkinson’s elegant and highly accomplished food earned him a Roux Scholarship in 2005, as well as Michelin stars at The Goose and The Montagu Arms. He now cooks classically influenced comforting dishes at Betony at The Kings Head in Wiltshire.

It was fishing trips with a friend that sparked Matthew Tomkinson’s desire to be a chef. When his fishing companion – a chef at a small French restaurant – told him about his job and what he was cooking, it captured his imagination: 'I decided that’s what I wanted to do.' A-levels followed and then, on the insistence of his parents, university. Still convinced that cheffing was for him, he opted for Hospitality Management. During his placement year he secured an apprentice-chef position at a pub – most other students chose graduate management positions in large hotels – which he 'absolutely loved'. A year at The Greenhouse (a vegetarian restaurant in Cheshire) followed, during which time he began to broaden his understanding of ingredients – particularly vegetables – and how to best to reflect their individual merits.

Matthew's next significant position was at Simply Nico in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, near London. Allured by a menu filled with French terms he didn’t understand, he loved the atmosphere, friendship, food and attention to detail, describing his head chef there, Craig Gray, as 'just fantastic'. From there he moved on to Michelin-starred Ockenden Manor in West Sussex, working under Stephen Crane.

During his four years there Matthew won the Roux Scholarship – a prestigious cooking competition for promising chefs, with the winner taking up a stage at a three-star restaurant of their choice. Describing the competition as his biggest challenge Matt says that taking part made him read, learn, discover, try and test, and instilled in him the importance of hospitality, of making the guest feel welcomed, cared for and appreciated. The Roux family advised him to take up his work placement at Michel Guérard’s Les Prés d’Eugénie in southwest France, which Matthew described as 'an inspired choice'. He goes on: 'The whole experience was like going to university. It was real life – sink or swim.'

Matthew then joined The Goose in Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire, as head chef, winning his first Michelin star in 2008, not long after arriving. His French-influenced, modern British food featured carefully sourced local ingredients in dishes such as Royal Balmoral venison with Sarladaise potatoes, glazed chestnuts, buttered curly kale and sauce Grand Veneur, and grilled escallop of wild Scottish halibut with caramelised salsify, crispy potato, wild mushrooms and cep sauce. Desserts included offerings such as warm pistachio cake with Yorkshire rhubarb sorbet, lime cream and ginger syrup.

Matthew then moved onto The Terrace at 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. 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'.

Giving, welcoming hospitality has always been a guiding principle of Matthew’s work – initiated in childhood, cemented during his time competing for the Roux Scholarship and still being developed today.

Matthew left The Terrace at The Montagu Arms in early 2019 to open Betony at The Kings Head in Whiteparish. His food continues to be influenced by classical French cooking but is more informal and relaxed, ensuring everyone gets a chance to experience his incredible cuisine.