Serving up all the Michelin-starred chef’s favourite things on a plate.

Known as the ‘chef’s chef’, David Everitt-Matthias has been quietly cooking his way to the top of the game for the past twenty-five years. Chef-patron at the legendary Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham, he was awarded two Michelin stars in 2000 and has steadfastly held on to them ever since. Famous not only for his exquisite food but also for not having ever once missed a service, he was a champion of foraging in hedgerows and forests long before its resurgence in popularity. As such, his menus are an ode to local British produce, which is entirely appropriate. After all, David was first inspired to cook when, aged six, his Aunt Pat took him foraging on Wandsworth Common. It proved a formative outing.

Duly inspired, he held on to that youthful fascination and some years later began his career at the Four Seasons in 1978 under renowned French chef Jean Michel Bonin, before a stint with the legendary Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire. Outside of the rigours of the luxury hotel, the latter influenced his career significantly, imparting creative ways with less popular cuts of meat that might otherwise have been thrown away. David then went on to hold three head chef positions (at Seychelles fish restaurant, Steamer’s; The Grand Café; and finally at Fingals, a boutique fine-dining proposition on the Fulham Road), before finally opening his own restaurant, Le Champignon Sauvage, in Cheltenham.

The year was 1987, and David, then just 26, along with his wife Helen, aged 24, soon found themselves weathering the storm of the Nineties recession. Having thankfully withstood that early test, they have stayed resolutely put ever since, steadily making a name for themselves. Theirs is not, and never has been, a world of flashy overexpansion or glossy TV appearances. Instead, they work consistently hard and, consequently, have garnered two Michelin stars, four AA rosettes and 8/10 in the Good Food Guide, which lists Le Champignon Sauvage as one of the top ten restaurants in the country.

David is the author of three cookbooks: Essence (2006), Dessert (2009), and Beyond Essence (2013), all of which are hugely acclaimed. But then that stands to reason; he is, after all, the man of whom Jay Rayner once wrote, ‘One of Britain's greatest chefs, in charge of one of Britain’s greatest restaurants, just wants to be in the kitchen. How refreshing.’

Here the chef’s chef shares some of his favourite things, from a passion for Japan to his great love of Christmas food – right down to the late-night cheese board.

Photos: Jon Tyson; Thomas Stadler; Guillermo Kahlo/Wikimedia; ElCarito; David Edelstein; Gabriel McCallin

Favourite place in the world?

Japan. It has a wonderfully diverse culture. Fantastic art; an appreciation of finding beauty in the imperfect (wabi -Sabi); amazing food; beautiful scenery; and honour. These are all things that appeal to me.

Dream holiday?

Apart from a long tour of Japan, it would have to be Bora Bora – the so-called Society Islands in French Polynesia. Sun, sea, seafood: what more can you ask for?

Most coveted item right now?

An original Damien Hirst Cherry Blossom painting. His control of colour in them is majestic and the canvases can`t help but bring a smile to the face in these Covid times.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

My dream house would have to be near the sea, built with stone to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plenty of light. And a small gym to the side so that when I am rowing or cycling, I can look at the sea views. And go for a good swim every morning.

Favourite building?

Library of Birmingham. Apart from the books and the immense knowledge stored there, the building is fantastic in design, both inside and out. Lots of glass and swirling elevations and the most breath-taking views across the city. Also, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It’s a ground-breaking design using different materials and shapes, and it’s very pleasing on the eye. Plus it is, of course, home to some brilliant exhibitions.

What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa.

Best film you’ve seen recently?

My favourite film is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s hardly new but it appeals to me on so many levels: the iconic fashion of that era, and the romantic side to the story.

Best binge-watched TV show?

The Blacklist with James Spader. Fantastic series with many twists along the way. I also just re-watched the likeable anti-hero Dexter for the impending new series coming after a break of eight years.

Top podcast of the moment?

I don’t listen to them. I’m more at home listening to jazz, Motown and northern soul.

Your hero?

Amy Winehouse. A fantastic artist who tragically died much too young. I would have loved to have heard her music as we grew older together.

Favourite dish to cook?

It would have to be the Christmas Day meal, from the starters right down to the nibbling on a good cheeseboard in the early hours of the morning with good friends.

Favourite café/restaurant and why?

Chez Bruce in London. Wonderful service and food that comes from the heart. I smile whenever I think about the food I have had there. Bruce Poole, the owner, and his chef Matt Christmas have created a world-class restaurant without a lot of the pretension that so many restaurants rely on.

Who would be your top five dinner party invitees?

Humphrey Bogart, Akira Kurosawa, Chet Baker, Audrey Hepburn and Frida Kahlo. I think they would be a good mix, covering most of the arts. They would have great stories of their respective lives. They would also be a fun table to dine with, I think.

Favourite Instagram?

Andy Hayler, food blogger. He’s a great writer and someone who, through his experience of eating all over the world, really knows what he is talking about.

Your screen saver?

My last dog Alba. She was just so lovely.

What would be your epitaph?

Be true to yourself. ‘He was.’

By Nancy Alsop
October 2021

Tom Kerridge
Alastair Hendy, The Walking Magazine
Gill Meller

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.