MATT’S 3 STEPS TO AN EM­PIRE WITH HEART

Collective Hub - - FOOD -

“When we started at Chiswick, we dou­bled what we thought we were go­ing to do, so we ex­tended the kitchen,” he re­calls. “I love it. It’s the restau­rant I prob­a­bly eat at more than any­where.”

It’s easy to dis­miss one of the most fa­mous restau­ra­teurs in the coun­try, owner of a hos­pi­tal­ity em­pire that also spans the Solo­tel group, a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar pub port­fo­lio, as an end­less well of cock­sure con­fi­dence. But to do so would be to over­look Matt’s abil­ity to go against pop­u­lar opin­ion, veer off the path he’s built for him­self and take big risks along the way.

On the me­dia’s in­sis­tence that fine din­ing is dead, he says: “It’s like say­ing we’ll stop mak­ing lux­ury Audis; like say­ing there’ll be no more first-class air travel. Peo­ple still want to be wooed!”

Then there’s his 2015 split with Peter Sul­li­van, his business part­ner of 24 years, to en­ter into a joint ven­ture with Bruce Solomon, a men­tor since his Padding­ton Inn days. Last year, he closed Aria for a sched­uled three-month makeover.

“We did a com­pete re­furb and spent many mil­lions re-do­ing it,” he ex­plains, smil­ing. “It’s [part of] our com­mit­ment to evolve.”

On his rare days off, Matt, who’s look­ing for­ward to a trip to Ber­lin, likes to ride his mo­tor­cy­cle, eat his way around the city and spend time with his fam­ily on the farm. Be­tween run­ning restau­rants, build­ing his em­pire and tak­ing part in in­ter­views like this one, does he miss the sim­ple life of the teenage chef from the sub­urbs who found him­self in food?

“I love the in­dus­try but cook­ing is a young man’s sport,” he laughs. “I still cook at home, though. My pas­sion for it has never waned.”

SUR­ROUND YOUR­SELF WITH THE RIGHT PEO­PLE

“I’m lucky – I’ve got some great peo­ple around me. I’ve got a fan­tas­tic part­ner in life – Sarah’s got her own ca­reer and she’s very suc­cess­ful. I’m very lucky in that re­spect. Also, my business part­ner [Bruce Solomon] is a great man, men­tor and friend.”

DE­FINE SUC­CESS ON YOUR OWN TERMS

“I think my big­gest achieve­ment in life is that I’m happy. I think if you’re happy and con­tent, what more do you want? The fame, the money – that doesn’t mat­ter.”

AL­LOW YOUR MIS­SION TO EVOLVE AS YOU DO

“I think the older I get, the more I want to give back. [Now] that we’re a big com­pany we can of­fer peo­ple ca­reer pro­gres­sion. I also care more about food waste, the en­vi­ron­ment and how farm­ers are treated and looked af­ter.”

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