Brits Abroad – Matthew Clarke

09 March 2012 by
Brits Abroad – Matthew Clarke

Matthew Clarke, 33, is head chef of the Malvina House hotel in the Falkland Islands' capital, Port Stanley. Despite its remoteness, he tells Janet Harmer how he loves the islands' beauty, lack of crime and cheap beer

Tell us about the Malvina House hotel and restaurant?
The Malvina House hotel is located on the waterfront and is owned by one of the largest companies on the Falkland Islands, Stanley Service. Later this year, our restaurant will be extended and redesigned to accommodate 140 covers.

I head a multinational brigade of eight chefs - myself and a colleague are British, while the other members are Chilean or Falkland Islanders.

We have people from every walk of life staying with us, including journalists and other media, military personnel, business visitors, tourists and those that are over here working for the oil exploration companies.

What impact has working overseas had upon your career?
I have spent most of my career working abroad and have even travelled since I've been here, having recently competed a stage for Joël Robuchon at the Mansion in Las Vegas. Being a chef is a great way to see the world, and by being open minded I have gained valuable culinary knowledge from different cultures and traditions.

Of the countries you have worked in, which have you enjoyed the most and why?
I think Australia wins as far as the way of life goes; however, culinary wise, America is quite special.

How did you get the job?
I read about it on the Caterer andHotelkeeper website, had two interviews in London and, following a cook-off, I was offered the job. I'm now in my fourth year.

What do you enjoy about working in the Falkland Islands?
You can experience walks on isolated pristine beaches with wildlife all around and hospitality that, in my opinion, remains unrivalled. My commute to work is less than five minutes and, perhaps most importantly of all, the beer is only £1.30 a pint!

What do you dislike?
It's hard to find too much to dislike, other than we are very isolated (it's a 20-hour flight from Brize Norton on a military aircraft) and when the wind blows, she blows.

What are the biggest challenges of working in such a remote location?
It is important to keep things interesting as our remoteness means we have a high percentage of repeat customers we need to keep attracted to the restaurant. So we change our menu every month, run specials, themed evenings and tasting menus.

Do you have difficulties with supplies?
We have to order frozen and dry goods three months in advance, which can be a problem if things get left behind in the UK as happened recently.

However, we are lucky to have world-class ingredients on the Falklands such as Loligo squid (by far the best I have ever had and a signature dish of the restaurant), toothfish, snow crab, Upland goose and, of course, Falkland Islands lamb which we butcher in-house.

What has been the highlight of your time in the Falkland Islands so far?
Preparing a banquet for Princess Anne, cooking for the Annual Falklands Conservation Charity Ball for 220 people, producing 16-course tasting menus and spending time with my family on the outer islands - such as Sea Lion Island and Carcass Island - which are amazing wildlife destinations.

What family do you have with you?
My wife, who is Canadian, is the restaurant manager at the hotel and we have worked together since we met at the Chateau Lake Louise in Canada 10 years ago. I also have Dylan, my beloved Tibetan Mastiff, who has travelled the high seas to be here with us.

What impact has the arrival of Prince William on the islands had upon the local people?
So far he is keeping a very low profile and the islanders respect his privacy. We hope he will pop in for his supper soon, but so far the only impact I have noticed is the women are wearing a little more make-up in anticipation of a chance meeting in Stanley!

CV: Matthew Clarke
1994-97 NVQ 2 & 3, Catering and Hospitality, Brooklands College, Weybridge, Surrey
â- 1997-99 HND Culinary Arts, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Lancashire
â- 1999-00 Demi chef de partie, Hotel KÁ¤mp, Helsinki, Finland
â- 2000-01 Head chef, Addictions restaurant, Sydney, Australia
â- 2002-03 Sous chef, the Fairmont, Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
â- 2003-08 Head chef/manager, the Highwayman, Hampshire; and the Lord Derby, Oxfordshire
â- 2008-present Head chef, Malvina House hotel and restaurant, Falkland Islands

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