10 Minutes with: Matt Edmonds, The Grantley Arms

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th April 2016

Last year The Staff Canteen announced that Matt Edmonds would be leaving Searcy's The Gherkin and taking on a new project, his first solo venture. He now has his feet firmly under the table as chef patron of The Grantley Arms in Wonersh, Surrey so we thought it was time to pay him  a visit and find out if he was enjoying his move away from the city.

"My main idea was to take what we were doing at The Gherkin and put it in a village," explained Matt. "I wanted to bring the food I was cooking in London and make it accessible to Surrey, we thought there was a market for that and we wanted to come in under the radar and build a good reputation."

He added: "People have been really enthusiastic about it and we've been really busy since we opened. But we're still trying to get people to understand what we are doing because there are two parts to the business.

"There's the pub side of it where you have your burgers, your fish and chips, then there is the restaurant which also has a private dining room. So, getting people to understand the two concepts in one building has been a challenge."

Having previously worked at the Latymer restaurant at Penny Hill Park hotel, Une Table Au Sud in Marseille France with chef Lionel Levy and Artelier Amora in Poland, Matt, with backers, took over the Grade II listed building in October. He has since then refurbed it and created several new menus using ingredients from local suppliers.matt edmonds quote

Matt said: "Me and my pastry chef ripped out the kitchen ourselves and rebuilt it, it's been full on. We set the kitchen out to how we could at the moment but we have plans for extending later on. 

"In London you got everything supplied to the restaurant first thing in the morning before the congestion charge kicked in! Now I get a meat delivery twice a week instead of five days a week, so I have to plan my week a lot more to be more efficient. Everything has to be planned so you don't run out!"

The pub won 'One To Watch' in this year's Gasro Pub Top 50 and recently received two AA Rosettes.

"It was amazing to get 'one to watch' in just 11 weeks," said Matt. "We are not really pushing for accolades yet but anything that comes along is great.

"I do miss London in certain aspects, everything is there and at the same pace. Here it's slower, but I think it is a good thing."

The private dining room is located in the oldest part of the building, full of original beams Matt stripped the building back to how Lord Grantley would have had it. The private dining room is situated in what was the bakery in the 1890s and it still has the original fire place.

Matt said: "It's got a lot of character and there are a lot of ghost stories - there's some weird stuff goes on!

"We are still going through a transitional period, we are only into are sixth month so there are still things to iron out and I want it more consistent before i start looking at tasting menus and things like that.

"I originally started off with more funky things, like mini snacks; black pudding, scotch eggs, beer braised ox tail with chips and curds, pigs head fritters - but it didn't go down a hundred percent well so we've had to look at it again. It was the sort of stuff i did at the Gherkin at the bar and it went really well."

Matt didn't open the restaurant side of the business until January this year as there were only four chefs in the kitchen and they couldn't keep up.

He said: "We make all the bread, whip all the butter - everything is done in house so it's full on for a little kitchen, we hammer it. The guys are pushing but the project as a whole has a lot of potential."

Now in charge of his own place, Matt says the pressure is a lot different to what he was used tomatt edmonds team before, he said: "You need to make sure the business is working because you don't want to lay people off, there are a lot more worries. At The Gherkin everything was financial so you were always looking at gross profits, how much money you were making, where could you save money. Here you are looking at what you can do to make money!"

The team is made up of chefs who came with Matt from the Gherkin, including his senior sous, Kwesi Boller and pastry chef, Chris Hurter, and Matt says he couldn't have done it without Kwesi, he said: "He's my right hand man, without him in the beginning we would of gone down. My pastry chef is really talented too. The core of us have done everything form scratch."

He added: "I also have an apprentice, I like to have them because I think you learn a lot more than just being at college all the time.

"Colleges just don't have the funding, it's not that they are bad. Unfortunately they need to move with the times because a lot of the things they are teaching just aren't used anymore."

Matt is just 19 miles from his mentor Paul Welburn, who opened The Leconfield in Petworth, West Sussex around the same time. The pair spent six months working together at The Gherkin and they still bounce ideas off each other.

"If I've got any issues, I'll always speak with Paul," said Matt. "It's always good when you've got that person, especially someone of his caliber, it's very beneficial."

>>> Read: Paul Welburn leaves Tonic and Remedy to pursue new project

 

There are a number of plans in place for The Grantley Arms but first on Matt's list is to keep the pub as a pub, for the locals to still come in and have a pint, but he also wants to achieve a good ranking. He said: "I'd like to get inside the Top 50 Gastro pubs, that would be great! We are also looking at rooms, but we just want to get through the first year, keep it consistent and hopefully come out with a bit of a profit!"      

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th April 2016

10 Minutes with: Matt Edmonds, The Grantley Arms