x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Following in Ramsay's footsteps

Food guru Following in the footsteps of the Gordon Ramsay proteges Angela Hartnett and Jason Atherton, Matt Pickop took over as the executive chef at Verre last year.

Matt Pickop says Gordon Ramsay is his biggest influence in the kitchen.
Matt Pickop says Gordon Ramsay is his biggest influence in the kitchen.

Following in the footsteps of the Gordon Ramsay proteges Angela Hartnett and Jason Atherton, Matt Pickop took over as the executive chef at Verre last year. He discusses working with one of the world's most intimidating chefs, and how the pressure to perform in Dubai is as strong as ever.

It's great, he's a fantastic boss. Obviously, it's hard work. I've been with him for eight years, but working with him isn't like you've got this famous person around you all the time - you just see him as the boss. He's just like any other boss, he expects results and he expects standards to be kept up. At the end of the day, we're running a business.

Well, he has done in the past. But that's obviously all about driving results and making sure the standard always stays the same.

Probably Gordon - most of my professional life has been with him. Before, I was with a restaurant called Teatro, which was actually a consultancy that Gordon did anyway, so it's actually around 10 years working alongside or with him.

The madness (laughs). No, it's the constant drive - constantly pushing to the best standard, trying to achieve fantastic results out of great ingredients. We cook with some great ingredients from around the world, so we get a chance to taste some of the most amazing things in the world. Every day is a new challenge, and no two days are the same at work.

I actually started off at university studying photography, so I'd probably have been a photographer by now.

Well that's it - I found out at university that I'm more of a team player, more of a hands-on kind of person. Photography is a lot more slow-paced. Although you need patience in the kitchen, you need a lot more patience when you're behind a camera.

To carry on doing what we're doing. Food-wise we have amazing consistency, the food is excellent and the service is superb. I don't think there's another restaurant in Dubai that has such good food and service together. Perhaps our location has let us down, but that's changing as new roads and the new metro are being built. Our accessibility is getting better. Obviously, when a restaurant is running for seven years things can start to look tired, but we're making several changes.

I think the pressure's definitely there but it's no stronger than it was before. I think there's always a pressure to keep on top of things. The minute you sit back you've got complacency written all over your face, and then you have to start worrying.

Funny you should say that. I've just done some filming with City 7, but I'm not really comfortable with seven cameras in my face. It's not really for me, I don't think (laughs).
Verre by Gordon Ramsay, Hilton Dubai Creek, 04 227 1111.
jbrennan@thenational.ae