The Caterer
Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

Mat Follas – A Minute on the Clock

07 October 2010 by

New Zealander Mat Follas is the 2009 winner of the BBC's MasterChef series who now runs his own restaurant, Wild Garlic in Beaminster, Dorset. He tells Kerstin Kühn the trials of moving from IT geek to professional chef

Caterer Why did you decide to enter MasterChef?Mat Follas I was an IT geek before, running repair centres across Europe for IBM and managing a budget of around £40m a year. I guess entering MasterChef was a spur of the moment thing. I obviously loved my cooking and had a vague ambition to open my own caff but I did it for a bit of a laugh and so that my kids could see their dad on TV. I didn't think for a minute that I would get very far. Even in the final I didn't think I would beat Andy Oliver who was a much more technically able chef than me and now works at the Michelin-starred Nahm.

Caterer When you won MasterChef in 2009 you said you wanted to launch your own restaurant. How long did it take you to open Wild Garlic?MF It took me three months to open the restaurant. I started negotiating on the site before the final had been screened - I wanted to keep the price down - but I didn't start trading until after the final had been aired.

Caterer What have been the biggest lessons you've learned about running a restaurant?MF The thing that shocked me the most was the high level of staff turnover. All of the staff I opened the restaurant with have since moved on. The other thing that shocked me is how low the margins are. The business turned over a few hundred thousand pounds in the first year but we just broke even. The goal now is to make more money.

Caterer Tell us about your cooking.MF It's a rustic style of cooking and I make use of a lot of wild plants and flowers, sea vegetables, wild vegetables and berries which are both foraged and grown by people we know. The dishes balance traditional and wild ingredients - I'm in a rural location and have to cater for the tastes of my customers.

Caterer MasterChef: The Professionals is airing on BBC2 at the moment. What's your advice to the competitors?MF I think it's very important to have your own style and stick to it. If you try too hard to do what you think the judges want you will fail. It's better to go out in a blaze of glory doing something the judges hate than cooking something that's not what you're about.

Caterer You're involved with the Happy Egg Company. Tell us more.MF I'm representing the brand this week, which is British Egg Week (4-10 October), and have created a series of simple recipes. I'm a bit nervous about selling out but the Happy Egg Company is very relaxed. They don't preach about free range and their chickens are genuinely happy - they have personalities which you wouldn't expect and definitely don't find with battery hens.

Mat Follas is a brand ambassador for the Happy Egg Company

2009 MasterChef winner Mat follas a ‘rare talent', says critic >>](

[MasterChef winner to open restaurant in Dorset >>](

[MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker - A Minute on the Clock >>](

By Kerstin KÁ¼hn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin KÁ¼hn here.

If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to jobs
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with jobs

[Blogs on]( Catch up with more news and gossip on all Caterer's blogs
[Newsletters For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our e-mail newsletters.
The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking