We caught up with Matt Budden Executive Chef at Schpoons and Forx, Hilton Bournemouth to discuss what it takes to build a successful restaurant, his passion for cooking, why he nearly took a career in the arts, and his ideal dinner party guests.
Thank you for being part of Chatting Food! We have loved your recipes featuring locally sourced ingredients. Dorset has impressive produce, what is your favourite to cook with?
We are so lucky to have such an abundance of local produce available to use here in Dorset that picking one is always a challenge, but if have to, I have a love of seafood and for me, I would definitely have the maxing mackerel that originates just a stone's throw away from the restaurant.
You founded Schpoons and Forx in 2015. How has the journey been for you, what have been the highs and lows?
Opening any restaurant is always a rollercoaster and to open not just the restaurant but the whole of the hotel at the same time has definitely been one of the biggest challenges of my career. We have seen the project come through from a building site to the hub of food and beverage locally, which is something I have immense pride in. We have literally built this project from the ground up and cannot wait to see what the future holds!!
You have a trademark Tandoor Clay Oven in your kitchen. An unusual bit of kit, was it always your plan to have one?
This was not always in the plan but we visited a few places and were always impressed with the depth of flavour that a Tandoor can give and it is a piece of kit that gets better with age as the flavours are absorbed into the clay itself, maturing the clay and imparting a richer, smokier flavour to the food.
Where did your passion for cooking start?
My passion for cooking is a slight cliché, I started learning to bake from my grandmother and have a love for homegrown British produce from my grandfather, but it was not an immediate step into the kitchen. I did not start professionally until after I had finished a degree in a completely different subject, but found myself cooking as a part-time job whilst at university and secretly loving it more than my studies!!
If you hadn't stepped in the kitchen, what career path do you think you would have taken?
I had originally gone to a local art college and found that arts and the creative design side always something that held a lot of interest for me.
What have been your career highlights?
For me, you never stop learning as a chef, and I have been lucky enough to travel around the world with a career that enables you to be immersed in different cultures. This has been a real highlight for me and has made me the cook I am today.
From a traditional career point of view, I remember the first time I had achieved accolades from guidebooks and from an executive-level being awarded European Chef of the Year & F&B Development Award for Europe whilst working for a hotel group, which had an enormous sense of pride and the recognition from your peers. As my career continues to develop, highlights are now seeing the next generation of chefs refining their craft and guiding them through their careers.
You are involved in a lot of local initiatives, including inspiring and supporting the next generation of cooks into the kitchen. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start in the industry?
The two best pieces of advice I have ever been given, and I still find myself reiterating is to approach this career with a curious mind and always ask why? You may not always get the answer that you are looking for, but an inquisitive mind alongside a drive to succeed is a great building block to start a career as a chef. The second piece is always the one that raises a few eyebrows in the younger chefs - You can teach anyone technique, but attitude and work ethic are two things you just can't teach no matter how hard you try.
You are having a little dinner party. Who would you like to see around the table and why?
Anthony Bourdain, Bill Bryson, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde & Keith Floyd – Can you imagine the stories that eclectic bunch would have to tell!?
What are the future plans for Schpoons and Forx?
To keep on cooking the food that our guests love and developing the talent that we have in the team and who knows what the future will hold for them.
A Quick Chat
Your favorite restaurant? Tetsuya's in Sydney or Kiln, London