Friends reunite to create the dream team behind The Cambrian Inn in Pembrokeshire
For Matthew Cox, taking on the role of manager and head chef at the Cambrian Inn in Solva, Pembrokeshire, was more than just a new job, it was the perfect opportunity to work with an old friend.
“I was born in London but my parents moved the family to Pembrokeshire when I was six years old because they loved the lifestyle on offer here,” says Matt. “They ran Cox’s Restaurant in St Davids and I worked there when I was younger so it’s definitely a family thing. Cooking was always a big part of our lives.”
After studying catering at college and working for a while in London, Matt returned to Pembrokeshire and ran Cox’s for several years, before taking on the head chef role at Cwtch Restaurant, St Davids.
“I came to work at The Cambrian because Jeremy – who’s an old school friend – and Marzena Barton, got in touch,” Matt recollects. “They were looking to move back to the area and had their eye on the inn [they're now the owners]. It was a fantastic opportunity because it gave me the chance to put my stamp on the menu and the restaurant. Jeremy was very supportive and he gives me free reign.”
It’s clear that Matt is keen to put this creative freedom to good use. “I like to do classic dishes with big, bold flavours and it’s really important to me that we use only Welsh suppliers for all our fish and meat.
“We’ve actually become renowned for our range of gourmet burgers,” Matt laughs. “They’re so popular that we just keep increasing the number of different ones on the menu because we add new burgers but people get upset if we take any of the others off.”
Even with more than two decades in the kitchen under his belt, Matt’s as passionate about cooking as ever. “I still love the buzz of service and I thrive under the pressure of it. It’s really enjoyable coming up with new menus and different takes on various dishes. I love my job and I love cooking – with the long hours involved you have to love it.
“I’m constantly thinking about food,” Matt adds. “Even on my days off I’m always researching online and on the television, looking for ideas that we can use and put on the menu.
“I’m really happy here at the Cambrian and I just want to evolve the menu and keep improving what I do. I never get bored of cooking food.”
The Cambrian Inn, 6 Main Street, Solva, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA62 6UU. Tel: 01437 721210. www.thecambrianinn.co.uk Lunch 12-3pm; dinner 5.30pm-9.30pm (April to September) and 6pm-9pm (October to March). Bar open all day.
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