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CHEF MATTHEW BROWN ASK THE CHEF

Matthew Brown - Hell's Kitchen and Beyond
interview with Andy Lynes

Andy Lynes is a Glenfiddich Award nominated freelance writer specialising in food, drink and travel. He writes the Food of the Week column and travel articles for the Independent on Sunday Compact Traveller supplement and is a regular contributor to Restaurant magazine. If you would like to know more about Andy take a look at his web site - www.andylynes.com

Q: How did you enjoy your experience as sous chef on Hell's Kitchen?

A: Enjoy is probably the wrong word. It was such hard work. The responsibility and pressure put on me was enormous. The main aim was to feed everyone and do it at a high standard and that's not easy with a bunch of celebrities.

Q: How did you get on with them?

A: I got on with all of them. They did their fair share of the work, but in order for that to happen I had to push them non stop.

Q: Would you do TV again?

A: I'd do Hell's Kitchen again, but doing other TV work for myself, I don't know. I'm not prepared to take the shit that goes with it.

Q: In what way?

A: I was made to look like the villain but I'm not a bad guy. I take my job seriously, just like Marco does. You didn't see everything that I had to put up with.

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Q: What was it like having Marco back in the kitchen?

A: It was fantastic. He's a great inspiration, a great leader. It was very enjoyable to have him in there. He's still very quick - he's still got the magic in his hands.

Q: I wasn't expecting him to be so nice to the celebrities.

A: Neither were the rest of us!

Q: Has the series inspired Marco to cook at the new restaurant?

A: He spends time here but he doesn't cook. He won't come back full time; why would he want to spend 18 hours a day in a kitchen? I speak to him everyday and I try to execute the food as close to how we've imagined it should be.

Q: How does it feel to be cooking Marco's classic dishes again?

A: It's great doing dishes from The Oak Room and The Restaurant at Hyde Park. It feels like a privilidge that he's letting us do them. These are the dishes that made his name; he doesn't let everyone do them. It's serious, grown up food.

Q: What are the best selling dishes at Marco?

A: All the dishes are selling well. There's eight starters and eight mains and a lot are from Hell's Kitchen. The braised pig's trotter aux morilles and the pigeon from Bresse with foie gras en chou are very popular, but so is the ragu of shellfish and the brandade of cod; it's a well balanced menu.

Q: Who's in the kitchen with you?

A: Roger Pizzey, who was also on Hell's Kitchen is on pastry but all the rest are new lads who I haven't worked with before so we're starting from scratch.

Q: But easier than working with celebrities I bet.

A: You would think that would be the case, but it doesn't always work like that! It's good though because if you work with the same people all the time it can get stale - although I hope that's not the case with Marco and me.

Q: Is running a restaurant in a football ground any different from running a restaurant anywhere else?

A: Kick off times vary so if there's a 12.00pm start on a Saturday then we'll do a breakfast brunch menu or a traditional roast if its 3.00pm on a Sunday. Apart from that, I haven't noticed any other differences.

Q: The restaurant is at Stamford Bridge; are you a Chelsea fan?

A: I support Manchester United. But if Marco, an Arsenal fan can go on the pitch in a Chelsea shirt then I don't see why it should be a problem.

Matthew Brown is head chef of Marco
Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London
020 7915 2929 - www.marcorestaurant.co.uk

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