Mattias has been my single greatest culinary influence and we intend to create the Veranda together.
Along with being one of the best chefs in the country, Mattias Karlsson is one of the hardest working guys I have ever met. From a very early age he had planned to combine his prodigious drive and talent to become a successful chef. On leaving school he trained for three years in one of Sweden’s finest catering schools, and soon established himself as the nation’s brightest light by winning ‘Young Chef of the Year’ in 1995. He forged his reputation by working for the best. On completing his training he worked at Operakallaren (a one star Michelin frequented by the King and Queen of Sweden) and later at Edsbacka (two stars) in Stockholm. He carried on his studies in Ireland for a while, before coming to England, where he worked at Le Gavroche for the Roux brothers and later at La Tante Claire for Pierre Koffmann. But Mattias’ dream was to have his own little restaurant, and when the opportunity came he bought La Toque in 1999.
The first time I met Mattias was in 2002 when I walked into his restaurant. His restaurant was small but beautiful. Reds and browns were heavily used to create an autumnal feel. Space was cleverly achieved by using one single mirror across the expansive back wall, which had the illusionary effect of doubling size and intensifying atmosphere. The lighting was seductive with several full height tripod lamps each dressed with a circular silk free flowing lampshade which pulsed like jellyfish from the warmth of their internal light. But it was the attention to detail for each place setting, which lifted the restaurant’s ambience to spiritual levels. Each table was dressed with neat white tablecloths, which provided a sculptured altar for large wine and water glasses, napkins, and plates.
Whilst Mattias no longer owns La Toque, he is still incredibly busy. He is a Head Chef of a very successful Tapas restaurant on the outskirts of Nottingham and, in his free-time he runs cookery schools in Italy; grows his self-catering business, holds private functions and works with me to create the Veranda.
Here are just some of his creations….
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