head chef, MATT BROOKS
When did you begin cooking?
I started cooking 14 years ago in a busy pub in Bridgwater before moving on to Bordeaux Quay, on Bristols harbourside, where I was trained under Barney Haughton (Square Food Foundation), Liz Payne and Freddy Bird (The Lido).
Fondest foodie memories from your childhood?
We used to caravan holiday in France once a year and I remember eating nothing but freshly baked baguettes and croissants, that I'd get up and fetch from the bakery in the morning, the best, freshest moules marinières and steak haché.
What first inspired you to cook professionally?
The speed, excitement and adrenaline rush of service first pulled me into cooking professionally but after that I found I developed a real passion for food and cooking and became incredibly interested in the creativity involved, ingredients and techniques.
What was your very first job in the industry?
My first job in catering was as a weekend pot wash whilst I was at college doing A-Levels. It was never my plan to stay in catering but I was offered a cooking job for six months of my gap year before university but enjoyed it so much I gave up my uni place to keep cooking.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
My cooking is all about ingredients. I passionately believe you have to start with great, fresh, seasonal and local produce. When you have that you just have to show it off. Treat it with love and respect and don't overcomplicate things. It's all about flavour.
What attracted you to Bocabar?
There's such a lovely relaxed vibe. A little different but done well. I've got the opportunity to be creative and a little different whilst producing really good food. I think we offer something for everyone in a very unpretentious, informal way whilst maintaining quality from raw ingredient to finished dish.
What’s your favourite dish on right now?
I'm really excited about our vegetable plates at the moment. They showcase the best local, seasonal veg cooked simply and paired with an interesting dressing to both elevate and compliment the veg itself. We sell them as starters, as side dishes and they form part of our mezze but they also make a great tapas style lunch. We change them daily depending on what is best from our suppliers so they keep us creative and excited about our produce.
Favourite suppliers you use for the restaurant?
Over the years I have built up relationships with some great suppliers who I try to continue to use whenever I move on. John Rowswell at the Barrington Garlic Farm grows some really good veg as do Radford Mill and Plowright Organic at Stowey Rocks Farm. Mike Smith based in Cosscombe, Cossington, rears amazing pedigree Gloucester Old Spot pigs and our beef comes from Marshall Elms Farm 10 minutes away.
Current favorite flavour combination?
Grilled leeks with roasted garlic or romesco. So simple yet so incredible done properly. Add a great bit of pork shoulder and that's it for me.