“I love cooking and get so much happiness from it – I wouldn’t change a thing”. These are the words of head chef Mateusz Nowatkowski, 29, who has been in the kitchen at the highest rated 3 star hotel in Bournemouth - The Cumberland - since 2011.

Polish born Mateusz moved to the UK 10 years ago and has worked hard, making his way up the professional ladder.

It is clear that Mateusz has a real passion and enthusiasm for cooking and a real determination to create dishes for guests will enjoy.

After completing an NVQ level 2 and 3 in hospitability and professional cookery at college, Mateusz completed an apprentice at Bournemouth’s Carlton Hotel. He then worked as second chef at Cumberland’s neighbouring Suncliff and Cliffeside hotels which make up the three hotel Resort along East Overcliff Drive, now owned by Qataris.

“I had a great first mentor, he was firm but fair and said I had a good work ethic. I took part in competitions, learnt many skills and what ‘not’ to do. I’ve gained a lot of experience having travelled and worked in a number of Bournemouth hotels,” explained Mateusz.

 “I’ve worked my way up from the very bottom - my first head chef pushed me to my very limit which really helped me. I’ve never made the same mistake twice because of that training!”

“I like to cook for family and friends who appreciate it and hear what they say. I do work long hours but I enjoy every second, if you don’t like it you can’t do it well. It can be stressful but it builds your character,” he continued.

The boutique style Cumberland Hotel boasts an excellent reputation for outstanding cuisine. It’s the only purpose built Art Deco Hotel dating back to the 1930's. It’s full of character boasting many of its original features and new modern twists.

The Cumberland’s Ventana Grand Cafe has been awarded two coveted AA Rosettes, secured and maintained under the guidance of head chef Mateusz. The Ventana Grand Cafe offers intimate Brasserie style dining and has been Highly Commended for Best Bistro/Restaurant and nominated in the Bournemouth Tourism Taste the Difference Awards. The hotel itself is also voted Best Large Hotel in Bournemouth.

 “It’s one thing to win these awards but it’s another to maintain them. You have to push the boundaries and that’s what we are trying to do. Consistency is very important and it’s down to all the staff - it’s not just me - it’s the whole operation. We all work together to achieve it.

“The Ventana is my baby and I am very proud of it. We create traditional British seasonal menus with a contemporary twist – always looking to make something a bit different. We also do afternoon teas which are popular.

“We use local produce whenever we can. It’s important to support small local business, there’s no point putting something on the menu that isn’t local when we have great produce around the corner.

 “I’ve been very lucky and met so many nice people. Customers often try new ideas on our special’s menu and we welcome their feedback – without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Signature dish – Duck breast marinated in orange and ginger with stir fried vegetables

One of the most popular dishes on the menu, this refreshing Asian inspired dish is full of flavour and simple to prepare.

Mateusz made an orange and ginger marinade and left the fresh duck breast in the bowl to soak up the fragrant flavours for least 24 hours beforehand.

The duck was then briefly pan fried then cooked in the oven for approximately 8-10 minutes - best served pink - then allowed to rest before slicing to serve.

Next, he stir fried a selection of vegetables in a pan including celery, mange tout, bean sprouts, peppers and onion.

Mateusz served with a soy, honey and coriander dressing and finished off with micro coriander.

Fresh, simple and delicious.