When Matt Gillan goes shopping in Horsham town centre he doesn’t claim to be mobbed by fans.
But television stardom has certainly turned this local super chef into a celebrity.Having triumphed in the Great British Menu and been asked to prepare the main course for the WI as they celebrate their centenary year he is now a national cooking icon - recognisable wherever he goes.
“Last Tuesday I went into Horsham. It was the first time since the programme aired,” the Michelin-starred head chef at The Pass at South Lodge said.
“I didn’t get mobbed but I did get stopped every ten minutes. It’s bizarre.”
Bizarre in a nice way, I asked. Does he like chatting to people when they come up to him in the street?
“I don’t mind it if they have got chat. It’s just a bit awkward when they haven’t got anything to say,” he responds, with a laugh.
It’s not just the public who are thrilled by his success.
His family are very proud of the man whose culinary skills, self-deprecating charm and Poldark good looks have turned him into a kitchen hero.
He said his youngest didn’t understand all the fuss - but did point at the telly when he was on and said ‘daddy’.Success has followed success for the man who has created a unique brand of taster dishes and whose imaginative gastronomy knows no limits.
His latest media interview was accompanied by the launch of the Great British Menu 2015 at The Pass - where customers can enjoy in one meal all the courses he cooked for the TV.
The theme was closely linked to the WI - with jamming and canning, and sowing and growing featuring heavily.
Waste not, want not, was his underlying concept with goat the meat of choice for the main course.
But this is goat as you have never tasted it before - if you have tasted it before.
It’s lean, tender and prepared in a variety of ways.
There are no overpowering flavours - just a rich and subtle blend of tastes and textures.
Matt has always been keen on exploring how many versions of one ingredient can be presented on the plate.
That was never more true of his piece de resistance - a multi-faceted approach to honey as a dessert.
And it’s in his nature to let his meals tell their own story. With the main course, he took this one step further actually writing it into a novelette with stunning illustrations by Jo Parry, who he caught up with on Twitter.
Search the internet for reviews of Matt’s food and you will struggle to find a word of criticism. Sublime. Amazing. Simply the best meal I have ever had. These are the comments that litter the feedback boxes.
The Pass is a tiny restaurant set in the hotel’s kitchen’s. Eating there is a treat. You will see, first hand, Matt at work with his team.
There’s no shouting. No TV histrionics.
Just one thoroughly nice guy with a passion for cooking, a real pride in his team and a genuine warmth for his customers.
But if you stop him in the street for a chat - make sure you’ve got something to say!