Matt Worswick: 'We have different pressures out here, but maintaining a Michelin star or working towards that goal is not one of them'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

In January, Shortly after Leaving Savoy Grill, Matt Worswick was given the opportunity to move to Barbados to oversee the relaunch of the island's iconic restaurant, The Cliff, as the executive chef 

We caught up with Matt, who, to the background sound of waves crashing on a beach, told us that his work is very much underway.

The Cliff's informal sister restaurant, QP Bistro, has been open since the beginning of the year, so service is already taking up some of the team's time while they develop menus, recruit and train staff ahead of The Cliff's official launch on August 4th.

The 'Whatever means necessary' approach

As well as funding a massive refurb of the restaurant, the owner has given Matt and his team free reign on everything from ingredients to crockery and cutlery - with the minor requirement that they turn The Cliff into 'the best restaurant in the Caribbean.'

"The setting is world-class," Matt said. "It really is another level. We can just be the best that we can, it's as simple as that." 

Once the renovations are complete, "the design is going to be very sleek, very modern," he explained, as apart from the bare bones of the building, everything is being built from scratch. "It's going to be one of the best restaurants I've ever been in, nevermind worked." 

The restaurant will seat 140-160 people across two dining areas and two private spaces, and the food offering will be diverse, providing "a relaxed setting, with premium ingredients and service in an incredible location." 

Matt has his whole team ready to go, an even mix of locals and European chefs. Given the setting, he said, "it's quite an easy operation to sell." 

"Working at The Cliff, you have access to the best ingredients, we import what we need, and then you get to work in a kitchen - and live - on Barbados, but still cook amazing food. It takes a lot of investment to be able to do that, but we are in the very lucky position to have the resources to do it." 

Bye for now, Michelin 

The chef is very grateful for the new role, not least because of how tumultuous the last couple of years have been for him.

In December 2019, he was all set to go to Shanghai to be the executive chef at Jason Atherton's planned restaurant there. When this fell through, he secured a role as the executive chef at Savoy Grill, which he left after a less than a year.

"So to find a position where you can settle down," which he and his fiancé are hoping will be the case at The Cliff, "I just feel extremely fortunate." 

But the move to Barbados has also meant making some sacrifices, namely the prospect of winning Michelin stars. Matt said he isn't phased by this, as he very much intends on working to the standards he held himself to back in the UK.

"The guide books have always been something that I've worked towards," he said, at Le Champignon Sauvage, Glenapp Castle, and The Latymer, "and the quality that instills never goes away." 

"The accolades change - you still get Forbes and stuff out here - but that's not my primary goal. Excellence is the primary goal."

Plus, if Covid has taught him anything, he continued, it is that "there is a little bit more to life [than accolades]. I have great work life balance here, I still have access to amazing ingredients, and super talented chefs. 

"At the end of the year, whenever the guide comes out, we'll watch it from afar," he said, "but I'm happy building a family, seeing my fiancé.

"We have different pressures out here," mainly working through the logistics of importing the highest quality ingredients, "but maintaining a Michelin star or working towards that goal is not one of them."

"I'm very much settled and grounded with what our task is, what needs to be delivered and what standard we need to get - it's just about doing the best food that we can deliver on Barbados." 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 6th May 2022

Matt Worswick: 'We have different pressures out here, but maintaining a Michelin star or working towards that goal is not one of them'