Meet award winning chef Matt Mason. Chef Director Matt heads up the culinary team at Winslade Manor Restaurant & Bar, the elegant 18th Century Manor House on the outskirts of Exeter.
Matt has won a number of awards including South West Chef of the Year (Professional) and Devon Chef of the Year from Devon Life. His passion is to showcase locally sourced, top quality ingredients and support local suppliers and this is evident across his diverse, exciting menus.
Food Drink Devon asked Matt about his career and his thoughts on Devon and the county’s bountiful larder.
What prompted you to become a chef?
I have a genuine love for food born from my surroundings – growing up we were a low income family, were as self-sufficient as possible who happened to have an allotment at the end of the garden – I was born in the 70s – mum and dad were hippies and we holidayed at Glastonbury music festival every year – we ate lentils, stuffed marrows, picked beautiful summer berries and dined out of the freshest vegetables that we planted and grew ourselves – I don’t think there could have been a better introduction to seasonal produce.
What has been your greatest achievement/proudest moment in your career?
So many highlight moments these days I am truly blessed, most recently being able to host Jack Nowell and Henry Slade’s testimonial Dinner event here at Winslade where I was joined by the finest Michelin starred chefs from the region to cook a six-course tasting menu for 180 of Exeter’s finest. Being a big rugby fan, this was something that I am hugely proud of.
Also watching my good friend Scott Paton achieve his first Michelin star this week I felt a huge sense of pride for him knowing that over 20 years ago we together sowed a seed that would help pave his way to stardom and ultimately earning his place in such a small and exclusive group of hugely talented chefs – pride not for me but for him – I was a little overwhelmed knowing him as I do, I know what that will have meant – and isn’t life great!
My eldest son Charlie has begun his career in hospitality with us at Winslade and I intend to take him to dinner at Acleaf very soon and the whole process can start again and Scott can show him just how good food in Devon can be and let’s see how that seeds grows.
What makes Devon such a great place to work as a chef?
I think as always, it’s about the people and the friendships we make along the way, such depth and diversity within our county I’m proud to call home.
Where would you go to dine out on a night off?
Plymouths newest Michelin starred restaurant Acleaf at Boringdon Hall of course – if I can get a table – I imagine their phone has not stopped ringing!
What is your favourite Devon ingredient/product to use in your dishes? And why?
For me I’m always blown away by the quality of the fish, the sheer beauty of it in its raw state, absolute perfection without doing anything to it – and well you can’t polish a **** can you…… the best ingredients cooked and served with respect will always win in my book.
To find out more about Winslade Manor Restaurant & Bar and Matt’s fabulous menus CLICK HERE.