New head chef at Number One, Mathew Sherry, tells us about bagging his job at The Balmoral
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“I went to The Balmoral once or twice when I was growing up and the clock tower is such an iconic part of the city, it really is a symbol of home for me”.
You’ll be able to try his food when the restaurant reopens on June 4. (Probably a couple of minutes late, if they go by the time on their clock, which is set to ensure that everybody makes their train).
The last person in that job was Mark Donald, who left for a new restaurant, The Glenturret by Lalique. As well as a top role, it’s a stepping stone.
After all, everyone knows The Balmoral, even more so once the eponymous documentary series airs on Channel 5 on May 21.
“I was involved in a multiple-stage interview process”, says Sherry, who started too late to get his television cameo. “Initially by phone, then in person and finally in the kitchen in order to showcase my skills and pull together some dishes for the team to taste”.
Although this chef is Edinburgh-born and began his career working for seven years at Dominic Jack’s Castle Terrace Restaurant, which sadly closed during lockdown, he most recently worked in Lancashire. This was at the Michelin-starred Northcote, under executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who was one of the winners on season five of the Great British Menu.
“I’ve always tried to learn as much as possible from the places I have previously worked. I started young at Castle Terrace and it's where I learned kitchen discipline and how to respect the ingredients you are working with,” he says. “When I moved to Northcote I really developed those skills. Being appointed head chef there was a big moment for me. I was 26 and that’s when I really felt like all my hard work had started to pay off”.
As well as support in his new role at Number One, he has autonomy, so is able to develop his signature.
On opening, we can try his three-course menu, and a seven-course tasting list.
“It features ingredients such as Loch Duart salmon, hand-dived Orkney scallop and salt-aged Hereford beef. I want people to walk away feeling that the whole tasting experience has a flow, so each course is building on the last”, he says. “I would say the ingredient I’m most excited about is Scottish seafood, whether that’s scallops, langoustines or fresh fish”.
As far as diners returning to fine-dining goes, Sherry is optimistic.
“I believe that the majority of people miss the interaction and ambiance”, he says. “Edinburgh is known for its excellent food and drink scene and I think it’s going to be incredibly important for us to use our emotional intelligence as hospitality professionals, to anticipate what our diners want before they’ve even asked for it”.