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MasterChef 2009 winner Mat Follas to open new Dorset restaurant

19 February 2014 by
MasterChef 2009 winner Mat Follas to open new Dorset restaurant

MasterChef champion, chef and food writer Mat Follas is to open a new restaurant in Dorchester next month.

Set to open on 7 March, the 24-seat site will be located in the Casterbridge Hotel in the town's East High Street.

Simply named Mat Follas at The Casterbridge, it will open on Friday and Saturday nights and serve food inspired from Follas' previous restaurants, with an emphasis on foraged produce plus a few new dishes.

The new site will allow Follas to share overheads with the hotel, which has been run as a family B&B for the past five years. He will not, however, take over the hotel catering responsibilities, such as breakfast.

After winning BBC MasterChef in 2009, the New Zealand-born chef became known for high-end cooking techniques based on foraging, and also runs courses on the technique.

He has said that he prefers to focus on the actual cooking side of running a restaurant rather than the business side of it, and that the new set-up will allow him to do this.

He told Caterer and Hotelkeeper: "I love being in the kitchen. It's only going to be me cooking, and I'm intending to use a lot more of the foraging and unusual ingredients that I think people expect from me."

He added: "We're looking at doing dishes like a really good pithivier, because now I have the time to make my own puff pastry, and things like that."

Follas will be the only chef in the kitchen, plus a kitchen porter and a "very good" front-of-house manager who he has worked with before.

This will be the fourth venture for the chef after his previous sites, the Wild Garlic in Beaminster and later Iwerne Minster (to which the Wild Garlic was briefly re-located) and the Chesil Beach Café in Portland were all forced to close months after opening.

The Wild Garlic received critical acclaim, gaining two AA Rosettes, top reviews and listings in the Michelin Guide and Good Food Guide. Despite this, the site could not attract enough custom to stay open, after a road tunnel closure dramatically reduced footfall. It closed in November 2013.

Follas admitted that he had been "badly burned", hence the focus on a smaller operation at the Casterbridge.

The new restaurant will also be near to the Michelin-starred, 3 AA-Rosette Sienna, run by Russell Brown, Follas' own mentor and sometime colleague. Another restaurant, Brett Sutton's The White Post, has also opened in the area.

Follas called the trio "a nice clump of chefs in Dorset". He said: "We're not competing, we're all good mates! We aren't looking to take trade from the others; we're looking to add to it. I've seen a lot of people planning a weekend in Dorchester so they can go to all of us."

Masterchef winner Mat Follas closes the Wild Garlic >>

Former MasterChef winner Mat Follas opens second restaurant in Dorset >>

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