The people who make and produce the food we enjoy so much in the New Forest are one of the reasons we are such a top foodie destination.

So we’d like to introduce you to some of them, starting with the man who’ll be cooking up a culinary storm for our headline Tastes of the Forest event – head chef at Chewton Glen, Luke Matthews.

When he took his summer job at Pinocchio’s Italian restaurant in Christchurch, Luke couldn’t have foreseen that he was embarking on a path that would lead to him running the celebrated restaurant at the 5* Chewton Glen Hotel near new Milton. He was 16 when he started his apprenticeship at The Green Park Hotel, Bournemouth, moving to the Dormy Hotel at Ferndown where a butcher supplier to the Dormy arranged a week’s work experience for Luke at Chewton Glen, and he realised where he wanted to be.

“I knew I needed to travel and learn so I worked in Jersey and Oxfordshire and then moved off to Provence,” he says, explaining how he discovered the regions amazing fruit and vegetables, honey, goat’s cheese, truffles and the fish used as the base for so many classic Mediterranean dishes. “I spent my holidays staying in low-cost accommodation so I could afford the very best restaurants to dine in,” he says.

After successfully landing a sous chef position at Chewton Glen in 1993 he became senior sous chef and ten years later found himself executive chef. He’s appeared on Saturday Kitchen but is still happiest spending time with his family at Barton-On-Sea and in the kitchen – at home and at work. “It’s been 21 years now but I still look forward to every day,” he says. Luke will be in charge of our Tastes of the Forest headline event, a six-course tasting menu with wine, presenting the very finest food the New Forest has to offer.

luke matthews - chef