A quarter-finalist from TV’s MasterChef: the Professionals has been appointed as the new executive head chef of a Tynemouth restaurant.
Matei Baran, 40, is in charge of the kitchen of The Salt Cove at the Park Hotel Tynemouth.
The hotel is undergoing a £3m transformation, including the creation of The Salt Cove restaurant, which can seat 120 customers and opens to the public on September 28.
Matei, who moved to the north east from his native Romania in 2009, has been the head chef at Newcastle’s Jurys Inn and executive head chef at the Bannatyne Hotel, Darlington, and Northumberland Arms in Felton.
He said: “All my family – my father, my grandmothers – they always cooked at home. For me, it’s a passion. I think I have it in my blood.”
In 2016 Matei qualified for the televised rounds of MasterChef: the Professionals, but broke his hand playing football in a charity event the day before his first appearance.
“I couldn’t bend my hand, I couldn’t hold a knife, but I knew that if I told them they wouldn’t let me compete,” he said.
He reached the quarter finals and Matei said that same will to succeed will put The Salt Cove on the culinary map.
He said: “I’m really excited because I’ve never opened a restaurant. The owners understand what they will get from me and I know what they want. In six months I think this place will be heaving.
“The competition is huge around here so you need to come up with something new and tasty.
“I know because we are right by the sea that people will expect the menu to be 90 per cent seafood, but if you look around everything is fish, fish, fish, so we’re aiming for 40 per cent fish and 60 per cent on the meatier side.”
Kara Beecroft, the hotel’s sales and marketing manager, said: “The restaurant looks fantastic and we now have somebody who will provide our customers with the food to match their surroundings.
“Everything is now ready for guests and customers to see the results of a lot of planning and hard work.”
For more information visit www.saltcove.co.uk