Matei Baran is a private in the Northeast of England. Matei Baran is a critically acclaimed chef and has been featured on MasterChef finalists, written a children’s cookbook and developed a new innovative street food idea ‘posh street food’. Matei has had a very successful couple of years on Poptop generating over 200 bookings. Matei has now partnered up with Poptop to develop new and exciting menus for our clients.
Find out from Matei how our successful partnership has developed over the last few years.
Firstly, could you introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Matei Baran, I’m a chef and I came to the UK in 2009 and today is my 45th birthday. (For the reader this was recorded on the 16th Jan 2023.)
Why did you want to become a chef?
I didn’t really want to – I think it was a natural thing in my blood. Since I was a kid – I liked to cook, I cooked for my family, and for my friends and then when I came to the UK in 2009 it opened different avenues for me as I put what I knew into various working locations. I went to college to do culinary school at Newcastle for 3 years.
Is there any training that had a big effect/impact on you?
I do believe training is important as it brings an extra flavour to your knowledge, but practice practice practice. You know you need ambition and the willingness to become a better chef. I also think you need to have it in your blood and you have to be crazy enough to work so many hours.
What was your idea behind posh street food?
The concept started through funding, and I always wanted to create a street food idea and when I looked around there was a supersaturation of fish and chip shops. I wanted to do something different. So we started doing ‘posh kebabs’. We’re like a posh restaurant on wheels.
When you come up with an idea like posh street food, how do you go about it? What inspires you?
It’s hard to say what is an inspiration for me. It comes every single day. For example, after I finish work and go home, whatever time, 10, 11 or 12 at night. I always spend at least a couple of hours on youtube. I’ll watch videos for hours and hours to help inspire me. I will then go to the markets to do research and this is where I get my inspiration.
If you have any advice for chefs who are creating a new menu or concept like posh street food, how would you advise them?
It’s hard to advise other people, it’s just to use their senses and creativity. If they believe in their decisions, do it that way. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas – I believe the street food market is booming and the fine dining trend will slow down.
Poptop, how did you find it and what were you looking to get out of it?
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to do private chef bookings and Poptop came up top of the search. I signed up and got an email saying congratulations and realised that the email had come from James. I said, “ah it’s James!”. We use to work together in a hotel and I set up a meeting with him. James described how it all worked and we have now achieved over 200+ bookings on Poptop. So, it has been a very successful relationship. During the pandemic, he rang me one day and he said how we could keep the business going by doing afternoon tea and Sunday lunches. Eventually, when things eased, people started to book weddings etc. It’s a good platform, a very good platform for getting bookings and getting your name out there.
As I look around your restaurant, I can see you’ve been involved in other projects. What can you tell us about them such as your big chef little chef cookbook?
It was a project that was very close to my heart because the book is dedicated to my little boy who has cystic fibrosis. So I created a book for kids that have cystic fibrosis as they have a bit of a different diet, but it’s also a book for parents to get involved in cooking with their kids. Based on that, I’ve done a lot of cooking classes with kids and their parents, and it has been a real success through the summer holidays.
Do you have any plans to revisit these kinds of projects?
We have plans to do it again in the school holidays, but it’s difficult to do as they don’t always match up.
Now, it’s time for the quickfire round. Where we ask quick questions and you have to say the first thing that comes to your head.
Goals for the year?
A party or private dinner?
Favourite thing to cook?
Favourite thing to cook for yourself?
Your ideal dinner guest?
Is there a professional job that you would like to attempt?
To be a millionaire.
Definitely some interesting answers from Chef Matei! Check out Matei’s Poptop profile to see all he has to offer.
It was great getting to sit down and chat with Chef Matei. We can’t wait to share what we have in store for the year ahead with Poptop menus! Be on the lookout for more interviews throughout the year with different inspiring and exciting suppliers.