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Matt Waldron, Head Chef at Park House Cardiff Talks to Chef’s Table

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Matt Waldron, Head Chef at Park House Restaurant Cardiff

Matt started his career in a small country house hotel named The Glen yr Afon in Usk, completing his apprenticeship in cooking.  His interest in food science lead him to complete a degree in culinary arts and food science in The University of West London.  Staying in London Matt worked his way through some very established restaurants with Helene Darroze at The Connaught Hotel being his most influential.  After two and half years there it was time to come back to Wales.  Working as Sous chef at Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth from the opening of the restaurant until it gained a Michelin Star taught him a lot about running a restaurant and all that goes with the territory. After completing his time there he then moved on to work for Gareth Ward at Ynyshir, which holds a Michelin Star and 5 AA Rosettes.

Matt took over the kitchen at Park House in the summer of 2018 and has immediately had an impact. Matts style of cooking is based on exquisite flavour using Welsh produce from the coast and off the mountains. He has cultivated strong relationships with farmers and works closely with small local suppliers which gives him the ability to handpick the produce to ensure it’s the best he can get his hands on.

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CT: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continuous to influence you now?

MW: Working for Helene Darroze in The Connaught for 3 years influenced me massively.  Her philosophy of using the very best products and treating them with respect and care.  Seasonality was a massive part of her menu.

Helene-Darroze

Closer to home a big influence is Gareth Ward at Ynyshir.  The way he creates his dishes, works closely with nature, the acidity of dishes, and just the simplicity of his dishes to the eye makes one of the most amazing restaurants in the UK.

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CT: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

MW: My mums Sunday dinner.  Roast beef, roasties, and all the vegetables from dads garden.  Cant beat it.

 

CT: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

 

MW: Piazza Duomo in Northern Italy. The food at Piazza Duomo is inspirational due to the use of local food products from his kitchen garden and around Alba.  They have such amazing produce in that region and Enrico Crippa just showcases it at its best.  It is his take on Italian food with influences of Japan visible in his dishes.

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CT: What do you think about negative reviews?

MW: I think negative reviews can be a good thing.  No one is perfect and sometimes things don’t go to plan, but that’s life.  You have to see in what context the review was written in.  If used properly negativity can be flipped into positivity, ideas to improve something, maybe something that hadn’t been spotted before.  All reviews whether positive or negative are a good thing, but the people that write reviews just to get something for nothing should stop, it can be quite damaging to a business.

 

CT: If you received a call from Buckingham Palace asking you to create a Dinner Menu using the best of Welsh produce what would you feature?

MW: The main event would definitely have to be Preseli lamb, for me, it’s the best lamb around.  The abundance of seafood we have around us I would definitely have to use the crab from Solva and our vegetable guy who has an organic veg farm. His vegetables are incredible.

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CT: What is your favourite dish on the current menu in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

MW: My favourite dish on the menu at the moment has to be the pork belly, shiitake mushroom, pickled sea weed and smoked eel.  The pork belly comes from Pembrokeshire, the seaweeds are all picked from Barafundle bay 10 minutes from my house in West Wales.  We pick the seaweed every Monday then process it for the week ahead.

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CT: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

MW: Charlie Trotter.  His food is very classic, looks immaculate and focuses on seasons.  He introduced America to food styles not seen before, very bold for the time.  He was ambitious and wanted everything perfect, from the minute you walked in the door.

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My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

Restaurant (1):  Gareth Ward at Ynyshir.  The food is exceptional.  There is a continuous development there and the place keeps getting better and better.

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Restaurant (2): Restaurant Frantzen, Sweden.  It’s a combination of relaxed atmosphere and incredible food.  There is no stone unturned there, the attention to detail is out of this world.  If I could afford it I would eat there once a month.

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Reviewer: Matt Waldron
Address: Park House Restaurant Cardiff
Website: https://www.parkhouserestaurant.co.uk/
Twitter: @PH_Restaurant
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parkhousecardiff/

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