The Hilton Hotel has made its mark on more than the skyline of the seaside town, thanks to TV hotshot (and some would say hotpot) of Saturday Kitchen, Food Uncovered, and King of the Wild fame Matt Tebbutt…
He has come to Bournemouth as executive chef of quirky Schpoons and Forx, the Hilton’s first restaurant under the new brand and a collaboration that Tebbutt came across thanks to a mutual association with designer Ted Baker, which is responsible for the interiors of the ultra-modern and chic hotel.
Matt Tebbutt talked to Enjoy Magazine about his career choices, involvement with Hilton, and his eye for live TV – particularly on a Saturday morning…
Matt had set his sights on a career in the RAF, yet thanks to regular family holidays in Europe, where as he puts it his “eyes were opened to all sorts of food lovelies”, he decided to take the plunge into all things culinary and earned a diploma at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London. When questioned on memorable and pivotal cheffing moments in his early years, he says: “Being mentored by Marco (Pierre White) and cooking with other slightly terrified young chefs for Richard Branson and family at his London house and seeing streams of celebrities walking past the open kitchen at Sally Clarke’s.”
After agreeing to do a small TV show for ITV Wales back in the day when Matt was running his own restaurant ‘The Foxhunter’ in South Wales, he was offered a place on the Great British Menu, then there was Market Kitchen, Food Unwrapped, and more than one welcome stint on Saturday Kitchen. When asked if that would catch his eye as a more permanent role, Matt is not backwards in coming forwards: “I’d be stupid not to!! Hell yes!”
So to the Hilton and part-time life on the coast, Matt is in the Bournemouth kitchen twice a month, for upwards of a week at a time. His menu is varied and based on a modern British take and also draws influence from North African spices, French classics, Italian simplicity, and clean Asian flavours.
This may be explained by Matt’s favourite global places to eat: “Italy for simplicity and conviviality and the Far East for the most amazing clean vibrant flavours.”
Talking of global, Matt’s experience of Bournemouth before his appointment was limited to: “Being a five-year-old tourist playing mini golf with my family!”
Asked if he undertook extensive research in the South before constructing the menu he answers: “Yes, I had to in order to get the best out the region… we are blessed with great ingredients in this area.
“I checked out Hampshire watercress and wasabi, the Conker Gin distillery, Lyme Bay wild bass and shrimps, Dorset charcuterie …the list goes on…”
He was also instrumental in constructing Schpoons’ wine list: “I helped to develop the list …it has to complement the menu and cater for a broad range of pockets.”
Of his continued work with his nominated charity ‘The Clink’. He says: “It’s a group of restaurants that give prison offenders a break into the world of catering …once they get kitchen, or front-of-house experience, the rate of reoffending plummets.”
It seems that the early signs of success in Schpoons and Forx may lead to a second serving of Hilton/Tebbutt collaboration elsewhere in the country. Meanwhile we are delighted to have Matt Tebbutt, albeit a part-time Tebbutt, in Dorset.
And before we leave him in peace a few flash fried questions — opposite.
Matt Tebbutt is executive chef at Hilton Bournemouth’s Schpoons and Forx restaurant.