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Chef revelations: Craig Mather

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Written by:
Chef revelations: Craig Mather

The head chef at the Empire Room, Royal Harbour hotel in Ramsgate, Kent shares his likes and dislikes

What was your first job?
A plongeur in the Conservatory, a small restaurant in Ramsgate, Kent, when I was 14

What do you do to relax?
I spend time with my wife, Gemma, and our three young boys, Noah, Alfie and Oscar

Which is your favourite restaurant?
It must be the Empire Room as I spend 15 hours a day here. But away from work, Wheelers Oyster Bar in Whitstable is special

What’s your favourite hotel?
I have special memories of Mallory Court in Leamington Spa, where I spent four years

What is your favourite drink?
A pint of local real ale

What flavour combinations do you detest?
A 1970s trifle with carton custard, packet jelly, tinned fruit and squirty cream

Which ingredient do you hate the most?
I love shellfish, but I haven’t had much luck with whelks – too chewy

Which person in catering have you most admired?
Simon Haigh, head chef at Mallory Court. He took me in as a commis straight out of college and really developed my skills to a Michelin-star level

Cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you take?
A barrel of local Gadds’ beer from the Ramsgate Brewery. It’s a great drink, but I could also try using the keg to make a dingy.

What is your favourite prepared product?
Cheese; I do like some after-service cheese and biscuits. I’m partial to Kentish Brie and Camembert.

If not yourself, who would you rather have been?
Jimmy Doherty of Jimmy’s Farm

Tell us a secret…
I love crunchy peanut butter and Bovril, together, on toast

What irritates you most about the industry?
Government cutbacks in catering colleges, which I feel, having spent five years teaching, has been one of the reasons for the lack of chefs in the industry

What’s your favourite book?
Where Chefs Eat by Joe Warwick

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