MATT HEALY is a ‘big’ Leeds United supporter and became well known following an appearance on ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’. Matt is the chef/patron of ‘The Foundry’, a popular wine bar and restaurant in the Leeds City Centre. He has also featured on Gordon Ramsay’s ‘The F Word’. Ironically, Matt’s tagline is ‘Food to Swear By’ expressing his belief in his passion for incredible food. We put a few questions together for the big man;
What sort of chef would you describe yourself as Matt?
Simple but effective, big flavours, and not too shouty!
If you were to make a meal for someone special for the first time what would it be?
I’d do the signature dish from the restaurant which is Hand cut Beef Tartare, Yorkshire Blue Cheese and onion toastie
You became famous in 2016 when you were a ‘finalist’ on the BBC’s ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ with two-Michelin-star judge Marcus Wareing describing one of your sauces as ‘one of the best he had ever tasted’. How did this feel?
Absolutely unreal to be recognised like that.
You worked hard in re-opening ‘The Foundry’ whilst modernising the Grade II listed building. How would you describe the food you serve?
Uncomplicated modern food, really chilled and mega tasty.
You expressed your delight in Leeds getting ‘its act together’ (being behind London and Manchester in the restaurant scene). Similarly, would you say Leeds United have finally got their act together?
This season has been incredible, watching the transformation that Bielsa has made has put a huge smile on my face, although we just missed out; we certainly have something to build on for next season.
You’ve credited Simon Shaw as a mentor (as well as a good friend) working with him at tapas place El Gato Negro in Manchester. Ever been tempted to open a tapas yourself?
Who knows what will happen in the future? I’m just enjoying myself at the restaurant, at the moment.
How was it cooking for (the soon to be ex) Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street and how did that come about?
Gary Maclean, that won my series of ‘Masterchef’, asked if I’d like to help out on a Burns Night super for a special guest, I had no idea who it was until I arrived at No10, it was a great experience to be in such an iconic place, and I was very grateful for the opportunity.
What would be your earliest memory of Leeds United?
My old man bought me the full ‘Burton’ kit when I was a young kid and I never had the shirt off my back.
Do you have any highlights supporting Leeds?
There is far too many to mention, Champions League years were good in the early 2000s and now I like it when the guys come in for dinner or when they pop to my veggie café, Gron, in Oakwood for lunch and a coffee.
Have you got to see them at all recently with you being very busy?
I get there as often as I can, and a few of my pals have boxes there so I sometimes get to watch from there, worst case scenario I have my laptop set up in the kitchen and watch on LUTV!
Who would be your all-time favourite Leeds United player?
This is such a difficult question, but right now it’s Kalvin Philips and I really hope we can hang on to him next season.
What are your opinions on all the cookery shows on television these days? Would you like to host one and do you have any particular favourites?
I love cooking shows, and I’d love to host one based in the north highlighting the incredible talent there is up this end of the country.
We’ve been involved, as a Trust, with the Foodbanks this season. What are your feelings on this; ordinary families resorting to Foodbanks due to financial difficulties?
I think it’s awful that any family has to rely on a food bank, it makes me sad that as a society this is what we have become.
What do you think about Marcelo Bielsa and would you consider making him a meal at any time? If so, what sort?
I think the guy is a genius and Id cook him whatever he wanted!
What inspired you growing up in Leeds and what are your favourite places in and around the city?
Both my nana and grandma inspired me to start cooking, taking me to the Leeds market for the food we cooked with! I still absolutely love that place; the smells and the sights the people instantly take me back to being a young boy, it was there to feed and clothe the poorer people of the city and I will be forever grateful that I got to go there back in the ’80s and early 90’s when it was rocking.
At 6ft 4, bearded and heavily tattooed forearms; do you think Pontus Jansson models himself on you?
You were regarded as a ‘class-clown’ at school in Horsforth with no academic skills; what made you want to get into cooking?
Exactly that, I didn’t want to do anything else, now though I’m quite academic, I’ve had to adapt myself and my brain for running my own business.
Is running a popular and successful restaurant much like a football team, surrounding yourself with talented, reliable and equally driven individuals to reach your goals?
I would say so. I have an amazing team around me at the restaurant and my business partners, a good business is all about the people and my team here are brilliant
The food you make surely deserves a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide but you say getting good feedback drives you not awards. Is this true?
Awards and all those things are nice, but my ultimate goal is for every guest that leaves here leaves happy, without happy guests we are nothing.
Lastly Matt, will Leeds United be a Premier League club in 2020?