Matt Capper, Head Chef of Chester’s Chez Jules, picks some of his favourite dishes

Matt, it’s great to meet you. Tell us a bit about your background.

I’m originally from Chester and in my teens worked as a kitchen porter in the Mill Hotel, before going on to complete my NVQs in college. After sitting my exams, I was really keen to work abroad and at 18 went to work in Normandy for a year in a chateau in the French Alps. I was there for two ski seasons and afterwards worked in a country house in the Loire Valley hotel for three years, which I really enjoyed. I then moved back to Chester to take up my first role at Chez Jules, as Sous Chef.

So what would you say has been your biggest inspiration during your career to date?

I’d say that my time spent in the Loire Valley has definitely inspired me the most and really helped me to determine the path I wanted to take. In the three years I worked there, the hotel grew from 14 to 20 bedrooms and we offered a French fine dining experience to all guests. People came from all over the world to visit the hotel; we served a lot of British, French, Spanish and German guests as well as many people from Brazil. I soaked up all of the history and culture and working with a mixture of French and English chefs was really inspirational.

What motivates you?

I love being involved in every aspect of the food, from the way it is sourced it to the way I present it on the plate. I really enjoy writing the menus and at Chez Jules we change these often. We always have something new coming in – we freshen it up all the time and continually strive to improve. This keeps things exciting for my kitchen staff and leaves us constantly thinking ‘what’s next?’ It really is a great way to work and ensures that we provide our guests with the very best range of food.

What made you choose the recipes you’re showcasing today?

The duck breast is one of my favourites. It’s a distinctive dish that encompasses many different elements – both hot and cold – and creating a mixture of sensations. As for the crème brûlée, this is a much-loved dish here at Chez Jules – I couldn’t not include it!
Chez Jules, 71-73 Northgate Street, Chester. Tel 01244 400014. www.chezjules.com

Matt’s vanilla crème brûlée

Makes roughly 2 ramekins

Ingredients: 300ml whipping cream, 1/2 vanilla pod, 50g castor sugar, 3 egg yolks

Method: Gently heat the cream, vanilla and half the sugar in a pan. Separate the eggs in a bowl and add the other half of the sugar to the egg yolks. Whisk until pale. Once the cream has boiled, whisk the cream into the egg yolks and whisk for 2 minutes. Pass the mix through a sieve and pour the mixture into 2 ramekins. Bake in the oven for 30-40mins on 120C. Once the crème brûlée is set, remove from the oven and allow to cool to fridge temperature. Once cool, sprinkle the surface of the crème brûlée with caster sugar and glaze with a blow torch. Enjoy.

This article has been published in the latest issue of HM Magazine, available here