Mya Lacarte's changing with the seasonsBy Linda Fort
October 27, 2011
Monday is an interesting day for the chefs at the busy, successful restaurant in Prospect Street.
That is the day when one of them can go off and look for new sources of first-class ingredients.
On one fruitful foray, they met Gillian Franklin at Cross Lanes Fruit Farm in Mapledurham and the result was that now the restaurant has two specially designated apple trees where the chef can pick his own apples.
Another trip took them to Greys Cheese Company in Pangbourne where Mya Lacarte now chooses its British cheese.
Owner Matt Siadatan is excited about the new season’s menu created by a new team in the kitchen.
He said: “We have always tried to source our ingredients as close to home as possible. We go to local allotment growers and offer them free meals in return for 10 kilos of vegetables.
“They have now formed a kind of co-operative to keep us supplied with the best quality fresh ingredients.”
As a result, the chef gets a plentiful range of interesting vegetables and fruit like squashes and damsons and can adjust the menu to incorporate the different ingredients.
Mr Siadatan said: “The pleasure is in seeing clean plates coming back into the kitchen – the customers seem to really love the food.
“Of course at this time of year the kind of food we cook changes.
“In the summer it is all pan fried ingredients, whereas at this time of year it is slow-cooked, braised and casseroled – comfort food.”
His new head chef Matt Hynes is young and has been with Mya Lacarte just four months but the boss thinks he is a phenomenon.
Mr Siadatan said: “He has been working since he was 16 years old and he is incredibly skilful and passionate about food. The new team has really given the menu that extra quality – and it is really down to the individual skills.”
There are six chefs altogether, including a pastry chef who creates all the breads and puddings and a trainee, Samantha Wild, who was judged Best Young Chef in Berkshire.
Mr Siadatan said: “She went to Kendrick and most of the girls there want to become lawyers and professionals, but she always wanted to be a chef.”
Head chef Matt Hynes, 21, comes originally from Yorkshire but was brought up near Buckingham.
He began his working life as a kitchen porter at Buckingham Golf Club – but then became a chef de partie at the Wheatsheaf pub where he learned his skills.
He said: “I am very excited about our new menu – my favourite dish would have to be the duo of venison with butternut squash and thyme puree, haggis dumplings and a chocolate jus.
“But then there is the loin of pork wrapped in air-dried Cumbrian ham, baked apple, cabbage, peas, honey parsnips and a cider jus – that is great too.”
The restaurant is now using Westminster College to train its staff. Mr Siadatan said: “The quality of the training certainly seem to be very high. In fact the other day when Samantha was there, Raymond Blanc walked in to talk to the students and wish them well.”
He added: “We certainly seem to have stepped up a gear with the new menu. I am really pleased with it and the customers seem delighted too – they think it is great to have a restaurant like this in Caversham.”