Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel has become synonymous with fine food.

Executive chef Matt Budden, 38, has been with the Marriott for three years and has firmly put down roots, having scooped many accolades and helped develop a number of great local culinary initiatives.

The premier four-star hotel dates back to 1873, yet despite its impressive grandeur and presence on the clifftop, it has become a friendly venue for visitors of all ages, with local, fresh produce being one of its core values.

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

The hotel’s award winning 2AA Rosette Highcliff Grill restaurant, lounge and bar serves a plethora of innovative dishes – a new summer menu is now in full flow, plus their afternoon teas are to die for.

“Afternoon teas have taken off after the popularity of The Great British Bake Off. People really have an understanding of what good bakery is now,” said Matt.

“For us, it’s about doing something classic but with a twist, making it more refined and having a bit of fun. Afternoon tea is so classic, especially in this seaside town, it’s really grown in popularity. It’s going back to glorified London high-tea and it’s become a ‘tea ceremony’ if you like, using loose tea and bite-sized treats. It’s great for parties, small groups and children.”

“It’s a great vehicle for creativity amongst the chefs; they can have fun with it and be a bit quirky. We have a full pastry team in the kitchen who all get involved in the design and have ownership and belief in what they produce. We use local suppliers, including Blandford based jam company From Dorset with Love.

What’s your favourite creation for your afternoon teas?

“It has to be our cold berry crumble served in a kilner jar - a vanilla panacotta with berry compote and crumble on top. It’s interactive and a bit different. I love our mini ice cream cones too!” enthused Matt. “We also create gluten free options and bespoke menus for anyone with allergies. All our chefs receive allergy training, so we really understand it.”

“I started cooking when I was growing up - my grandmother baked and my grandfather grew tomatoes in his allotment – I remember seeing them bake.”

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. My kids like getting involved too, as long as they are happy cooking, it’s a good life skill.

“The family is a good barometer when I’m writing menus. They might give me a reality check and say ‘what’s that!’, so I adapt it to suit.”

For Matt, local provenance is key; fruit is sourced from local farmers, meat from Jurassic coast and fish from Lyme Bay.

Matt is involved in a number of initiatives including; local school competition Yes Chef, The Marriott European Apprenticeship scheme, and Sustainable Food City programme - Bournemouth is the first city in the UK to be rated as a Sustainable Fish city.

Accolades pay homage to their achievements; they retained their entry into the 2015/16 Trencherman's guide, won Taste of the West Gold 2014, and Matt was winner of Culinary Excellence Europe Chef of the Year award for Marriott hotels.

Matt will be at the Bournemouth Food Festival, running June 19-28, and Weymouth’s Dorset Seafood festival from July 11-12.

Signature Dish: Afternoon Tea by the Sea

The Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott hotel offers a delectable selection of afternoon treats to enjoy whilst soaking up the beautiful sea views. Choose a pot of Twining’s loose leaf tea or freshly ground coffee and indulge in delicacies handmade by their pastry chefs including; a selection of finger sandwiches, warm homemade scones, jam, lashings of Dorset clotted cream, crumble, white chocolate and lemon verbena cones, or lemon, Bloom Gin and thyme drizzle cake. Afternoon tea costs £16, with a glass of Pimm’s fruit cup £22.50, or Prosecco £24.50. There is also a gluten free menu available.

Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel, 105 St Michael's Road,