Standing in a spectacular cliff-top setting, the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel has become synonymous with fine food.

With its origin dating from 1873 and its impressive grandeur, it could feel intimidating. But the Bournemouth Marriott is a place which exudes charm, quality and a friendly ambience. It’s a haven for families, both locals and visitors, and the food served up in the restaurant offers local, seasonal, fresh and sustainable food.

Executive Chef Matt Budden, 37, joined the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott two years ago and is extremely passionate about food and using local produce.

Matt said: “When I arrived here I thought it would be mad not to do something with fish as it’s on our doorstep. I came in with a definite plan of what we wanted the Highcliff Marriott and Highcliff Grill to be – we really wanted to create a local restaurant.

“There are no tablecloths, no formal dining rooms and there’s a relaxed atmosphere. We’ve changed the format of the menu and are taking down the barriers of people thinking of us as only for special occasions.”

Numerous accolades pay homage to their achievements. Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott won Silver in the Dorset Tourism awards, Best Restaurant in the Taste of Dorset 2013 awards, Sustainable Restaurant Association 3 Star rating for sustainable food (top rating) and Taste of the West Gold award, 2013.

“For us, and Bournemouth as a town, these awards are great. We are also the only restaurant in Bournemouth to have been rated by the Trencherman’s south west food guide. It’s great to see a restaurant receive an accolade within a corporate establishment. Getting the younger generation into a 4-star hotel can be challenging but we strive to appeal to everyone. It’s a casual restaurant and we’re conscious of creating that feel, we want a restaurant that is available for everyone,” continued Matt.

“All our products are from Dorset or Hampshire – we have fish from Lyme Bay, use butchers from the Jurassic Coast, local vegetables and cheeses. The Marriott has been fantastic by giving us that freedom.”

Serving British classics is what the Marriott does best: “It brings it back to the reality of what people really want to eat. It’s not an essay, it’s a menu so we keep it simple. It’s humbling writing menus sometimes as you have to ask people their opinions.

“When I was growing up I was inspired by people like Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley – I like the fact that he’s gone back to a simplistic format. I’m really inspired by chefs cooking Michelin-starred food in pubs like Tom Kerridge and Josh Eggleton. We’ll always do steaks but it’s about the flavours – if you do simple things it has to be done well,” said Matt.

A Bournemouth man born and bred, Matt has also spent many years travelling in Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam. He attended Bournemouth & Poole College and completed on the job training overseas.

“I’m always keen for my chefs to go travelling. They can learn a lot more from travelling, learning new terms and taking in different knowledge along the way.”

As a husband and father of two boys, Matt is a keen advocate of family friendly cooking. “Balancing work and family life is all part of the fun,” he enthuses. “I think it makes you understand the provenance of kid’s menus. Our general manager, director and I all have really young families so I think that helps us understand what people want.”

For Matt it’s important to help teach the next generation so The Marriott European Apprenticeship Scheme was set up in 2013 to train young apprentices on the job.

Matt explained: “We have a really close link with Bournemouth & Poole College. The Government Apprenticeship Scheme works really well for us. It helps them progress through an apprenticeship and it’s really important to us to retain them in the Marriott culture. It’s about training the next generation.”

Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott entered apprentice Dusan Osadsky from Bournemouth & Poole College into the European Apprentice Dessert Competition and he scooped the award. Dusan’s dish was featured on all the Marriott menus through Europe in May.

Matt is also passionate about promoting Bournemouth as a sustainable town. Bournemouth has been awarded funding by Sustainable Food Cities and he sits on the board as one of its founding members. He is also a member of the Dorset branch of the Chef’s Forum, a scheme aimed at linking up chefs, suppliers and colleges.

Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott will once again be at the annual Bournemouth Food Festival with live demos taking place on Friday, June 27.

Love puddings? Highcliff Pudding Clubs are hosted by Matt and take place on July 17, September 25 and November 27. To book your place call 01202 557724.

l Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel, 105 St Michael's Road, Bournemouth, BournemouthHighcliffMarriott.co.uk