Meet Matthew Butcher – Head of Restaurants & Bars

Our Foodbuy organisation is built to support amazing culinary leaders and their teams across Australian industries and to unite creative and passionate Chefs with our market-leading supply chain — all to deliver the very best customer experience.

Introducing Matt Butcher, the culinary talent behind ETO Collective who we have the great pleasure to support through our Foodbuy partnership with InterContinental Hotel Group.

We are delighted to share Matt’s story with you and encourage you to visit and taste his amazing food.

Matthew Butcher grew up watching his dad Ronnie cook in the family takeaway shop. A country boy with a heart of gold and values to match, Ronnie loves to bring people together over a good meal and a few beers. And it’s this simple but big-hearted philosophy that lives at the heart of what we do.

Famous in the Butcher family for the only pasta dish he ever makes, Ronnie’s approach to food is pervasive throughout the venue – delicious, hearty dishes designed to be shared.

“I believe the open kitchen is the way of the future. Putting your chefs on show to demonstrate their talents and to interact with guests, takes the dining experience to another level.”

Tell us who you are and your current role?

Matthew Butcher, chef & Head of Restaurants & Bars for Salter Brothers, with a mission to shake up the hotel dining and drinking in Hotels across Australia and the world.

Tell us a little bit about your industry history?

I fell in love with the idea of becoming a chef during my uni days in Melbourne, after a very fateful (and delicious!) dinner at Vue de Monde. I made a quick decision to drop out and return home to Echuca, getting busy in the kitchen of the Border Inn Hotel, where I worked for two years. When I felt I had learned all I could there, I went back to where it all began – Vue de Monde – where I worked under Shannon Bennett within an extremely high performing team.

After sharpening my technical skills and learning about how to cook in an elevated way, I moved to Singapore to work at the Tippling Club with Ryan Clift, who to this day remains one of my greatest mentors.

When I left there, I joined Gordon Ramsay’s group, working in NYC, LA & eventually back in Melbourne as he expanded his empire. I got a real thrill working on the business side of things, and that’s what led me to where I am now – driving the rapid growth and success of a multi-brand hospitality group.

Where did your love of food come from?

I grew up watching my Dad cook in our family’s takeaway shop, and he was known for making the best pizzas in town. Watching the joy that people got from eating his food, and how much joy he also got from being able to give that to them, influenced me from a young age. Then when I started learning about ingredients and flavour combinations, that fuelled my creativity and pushed me to keep learning and creating dishes that would put a smile on people’s faces.

What has stuck with you as being key to becoming a great Chef?

As cliched as it sounds, it’s really about hard work and commitment. Taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way, soaking up all the knowledge that’s on offer and surrounding yourself with good people. Having a plan and knowing where you want to go in your career is really important, because only then will you be able to identify the right opportunities to say yes to.

Recommendations for favourite place to eat in Australia?

Of course, I would recommend all of our venues in Melbourne & Sydney! Estate in Coogee has some excellent laid-back seafood dishes with a Cali-Asian twist, and in Melbourne, Ronnie’s captures a New York-Italian vibe through its extensive Cicchetti menu. Outside of that, Magill Estate in Adelaide is exceptional. My good friend Scott Huggins runs the kitchen there, and it is hands-down the best dining experience I’ve had in Australia in the last three years. Also, Wagyu Ya, a little hidden restaurant in Melbourne, is another firm favourite. Their focus on really top-shelf ingredients such as Toro tuna and premium wagyu beef bring every dish to another level. It’s the best little hidden gem and well worth the search to find it.

How do you relax and unwind?

Getting outside and moving your body is the key to me staying well-balanced. I try to walk every morning and get out on the golf course every chance I can. I love to travel and experience different cultures and ideas, although there hasn’t been much of that happening in the last 18 months! Getting lost in a good TV show is a great way for me to just turn off my brain, and as a big sports fan, I’ve generally got a basketball game on somewhere in the background.

What’s the secret to a great kitchen?

I believe the open kitchen is the way of the future. Putting your chefs on show to demonstrate their talents and to interact with guests, takes the dining experience to another level. Everybody loves a show and I think that being able to witness the creative magic that goes on behind the scenes is all part of the entertainment of eating out. The other thing I try to instil into my kitchen teams is to make sure everyone is treated equally. I truly believe that the Kitchen Hand or Dishwasher is one of THE most important roles in a kitchen operation. They work so hard to ensure that it all runs smoothly, so I always ensure they are treated with respect and brought on a journey.

What’s the one cooking implement/device you could not live without?

A Thermomix for sure. It can be used in so many different ways, from soups to desserts to bread to pretty much anything you can think of! Because it’s an all-in-one that prepares things quickly, it’s perfect for people who are time-poor. And it doesn’t require a huge cupboard for storage!

What’s your favourite food?

It’s hard to go past my Mum’s cooking. She makes the best lamb roast going around, complete with cauliflower & cheese and burnt pumpkin…the ultimate comfort food. On the other end of the spectrum, I also really love Japanese food, especially a Toro tuna nigiri.

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