If there was a prize for the ‘Best reaction to winning’ at this year’s Taste of Kent awards, Matt Sworder of The Corner House restaurant, Minster would win hands down! He and his team were visibly delighted at winning the Thomson Snell & Passmore sponsored award for Kent’s Restaurant of the Year, enthusiastically wrapping his arms around the presenter of the award, Thomson Snell & Passmore partner & award judge Alisa Sweeney. Once she regained her composure, Alisa told us, “Thomson Snell & Passmore are delighted to be involved with the sponsorship of the award again for 2017 and felt The Corner House to be a truly worthy winner: their commitment to local produce and passion for their cooking and guest experience stood out and we trust they will continue to flourish”.
Matt, 31, hasn’t always been a chef and actually started out in marketing. However he knew that he had a “passion for the kitchen, for pots and pans” and after training in the kitchens of Gordon Ramsey, Adam Byatt and Anthony Demetre, started looking for his own restaurant. Several places in London fell through before fate stepped in: The Corner House, previously a café and confectioners, in the village of Minster, became the corner stone of his new career.
It may be hard at first to see the link between marketing and owning a restaurant but during our conversation with Matt it becomes clear that he’s enthusiastic about his brand and it’s a key factor in his decision making. He was conscious that he didn’t want that brand to be diluted when he opened his second restaurant, also called The Corner House, in Canterbury. Both restaurants are built on two key philosophies - simplicity and the guest experience.
“Simple food, done really well; simple is beautiful,” is what he keeps in mind when creating the menu which has a modern British theme, Matt tells us. The Corner House uses local produce as much as possible and creates menu staples such as bread, pasta and ice cream in-house (providing recipes for bread and ice cream on its website too). Matt tells us that winning Restaurant of the Year has given him the confidence to experiment with the menu, but only a little – he knows that his regular visitors have their menu favourites too.