Matt Gillan to return to The Vineyard for one night only as part of 'Back to the Vine'

Matt Gillan

Matt Gillan

Executive Chef 21st June 2018

Matt Gillan to return to The Vineyard for one night only as part of 'Back to the Vine'

The Vineyard is celebrating its 20 year anniversary, and to mark this milestone they have created a culinary festival to celebrate the great talents who have been through their kitchen.

From Monday 25th June to Sunday 1st July, seven fantastic Michelin starred chefs who have previously worked at The Vineyard will be showcasing their culinary excellence which will include:

Shay Cooper, Nathan Outlaw, Matt Gillan, Richard Davies, John Campbell, Daniel Galmiche and Billy Reid.

Why did you want to get involved with Back to the Vine?

John Campbell called me about an event that was happening at The Vineyard. He told me a bit about it and I felt quite honoured to be asked to be part of it. I have a huge amount of respect for John and Andrew, so to be asked by both to return and ‘host’ an evening, I jumped at the chance.

Can you tell me a bit more about working as a senior chef de partie at The Vineyard – what was this like and what did you enjoy most about your time there?

I loved my time at The Vineyard. I joined as a Chef de Partie and committed to a year. I would have stayed longer, but I had already received my working visa for Australia. I went to learn as much as I could. I wasn’t looking to move through the ranks. I was asked to come to the office and to my surprise I was offered the Senior CDP position. It was a bit of a tricky move up. There were a few chefs in that team that had been there longer and were just as capable of filling that role. This was my first senior position within a big team and John really utilises his senior team and puts the pressure on. That took a bit of getting used to. Other’s mistakes were now my mistakes. It soon settled and I really enjoyed the role.

Do you have any favourite memories from your time at The Vineyard that you are particularly fond of?

My interview really sticks in my mind. The Vineyard is a busy place. There was something always on the go. Something wasn’t quite right so chef gathers the team, highlighted the issue, gave them the information to deal with the situation and sent them off to deal with it. No shouting, no blaming or finger pointing, just ‘here’s an issue, here are the tools to fix it, make it happen boys!!’

This was how the kitchen operated. The team we had at that point was phenomenal and that makes everyone’s job much easier. You instinctively know where each other are at and to bail out anyone that wasn’t set for service. And with that setup, you can move forward at a rate of knots.

With a tight team that graft hard like we did, we partied hard too. At least once a week there would be a birthday gathering or a leaving party or a starting party or a party just because it was Sunday. We’d then turn up the next day, all feeling the same but still get the job done. It’s not the most sensible way to go about things but I loved these moments as I didn’t really do it once I left and there’s no way my body could cope with that now.

What are you most looking forward to about taking part in Back to the Vine?

I’m looking forward to being back in a kitchen that gave me so many memories, mostly good ones, seeing how it’s changed and how Robby is putting his own stamp on the place. I’m also excited to be able to bring my food to The Vineyard, albeit for one night and a new audience.

You will be cooking with The Vineyard’s current executive head chef Robby Jenks and his brigade on Wednesday 27th June, how are planning the menu? How will you decide what to cook?

My menu is based around dishes that have served me well over the last few years. Normally I go all out and do something brand new. I’ve grown up a bit now and realised that I should just do what I know and get it right. They are some of my favourite dishes and each has a story. Robby has let us get on with it so each chef brings their own personality and style to their evening.

How beneficial do you think these chef collaborations are and what do you enjoy most about it?

I think these collaborations are great. I’ve hosted a few and been involved in a fair few. From a chef point of view, it’s a break from the norm. New techniques enter the kitchen, plating styles, service styles. It’s brilliant for the youngsters in the team. It also makes you question what you do. Not that what you do is wrong, but can you take anything from the visiting chefs to make things better or easier or maybe it cements the journey you’re on. From a business point of view, it adds some interest.

For regulars, it’s a bit of a change that they feel they have to be part of. Or maybe one of the chefs coming in has been on a guest hit list but they’ve logistically or financially been unable to travel, so it opens up opportunities to experience that chef’s food. It also brings in new customers. I think each chef has their group of super fans that will go to most events they do. This is an opportunity for the host venue to win over potential returning guests for their next special occasion. It’s also a great PR opportunity.

Find out why Shay Cooper is returning to The Vineyard

Find out why Nathan Outlaw is returning to The Vineyard

Find out why Richard Davies is returning to The Vineyard

Find out why John Campbell is returning to The Vineyard

Find out why Daniel Galmiche is returning to The Vineyard

Find out why Billy Reid is returning to The Vineyard

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