Talking food with Michelin starred chef David Everitt-Matthias
London-born chef and author David Everitt-Matthias has been the co-owner and head chef of two Michelin starred Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham since 1987, a joint venture he shares with his wife Helen. Le Champignon Sauvage has been a two Michelin starred restaurant for sixteen years.
Natasha Heard, food and drink editor at Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, talks to David about his culinary influences, inspirations and what makes him and his restaurant so unique and special.
How does it feel to be celebrating your 30-year anniversary next year?
It really doesn’t seem like 30 years. Time has flown by since we’ve been here. We’ve had struggles over the years but they have made us stronger. I have loved every minute of it though, and I still get up with bags of enthusiasm each new day.
What would you say have been the highlights of your career so far? What have been the down sides?
The downsides were the quiet times in the early years, with the big recession hitting after our 1st year. But even then it helped me develop my style by using cheaper cuts and foraging more.
When it comes to the highlights there have been so many – getting our second Michelin Star, winning the Good Food Guide Chef of the Year, Catey Chef of the year, Outstanding contribution award to the industry award from The Observer, to name a few. Now it is giving me great satisfaction seeing some of ex team members making a name in their own right. I have been very lucky to have had a wonderful group of chefs that have worked with me.
How has your menu evolved since you first opened Le Champignon Sauvage?
When I first opened I cooked for the guides, now I cook for me. My style before the recession was opulent, but this made me look at what I was doing and turn to a more terroir driven style. Now I have the best of both worlds, marrying expensive ingredients with cheaper ones.
Where do you find inspiration for new dishes? Do you look to any countries or cultures in particular?
Inspiration comes to me from many sources – reading, the internet, eating at people’s homes, eating in restaurants. Going on holiday in an incredible source of inspiration. At the moment we are playing around with the Japanese palette of flavours.
What’s your signature dish?
I don’t really have one, things continually evolve. Seasons change and new dishes are introduced.
What British chefs do you find the most exciting right now?
Brett Graham and always Tom Aikens, but there are so many young exiting chefs out there at the moment.
Is it true that you and Helen have never missed a service?
Yes, if the restaurant’s open we’re both here. It’s just how we do things.
What are your interests outside of the restaurant?
I really enjoy my time in the gym. I also love Japanese art and literature. When it comes to music I’m all about jazz, motown and northern soul.
What’s next for you and Le Champignon Sauvage? Anything exciting on the cards?
Our current plan is to keep our heads down, carry on working hard and keep trying to get better at what we do.