This July, chef Matthew Swift will open his restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland. Located in the heart of the city on Water Street, Terre Restaurant will be a place "to have a good time and relax". And to eat local, of course.
"I am not going to try to recreate any restaurant that I’ve worked for", says Matthew Swift, who left Montreal earlier this year, as well as his position as chef at Joe Beef, to move to St. John’s to open his restaurant, all for the love of the island.
After his first visit in "The Rock" in 2017, Matthew Swift knew he had to come back. Visiting with his girlfriend Clarah Germain, he remembers this trip as a very happy one. "We felt good here, we were very happy. Everything we saw was just "wow". All of the people we met were so good to us. We had several good meals. St. John’s is a small city with seriously good restaurants and people support that dining scene."
Next thing he knew, they were talking about moving there. How? When? They had no idea. But the reason why was easy: they were in love with Newfoundland, its gorgeous landscapes, the warmth of its people and, obviously, the food.
A few years later, the opportunity came up for Matthew to open his own restaurant in St. John’s. ‘’It was too good to be true’’, he remembers.
Needless to say, they didn’t think about it very long and decided to make the move.
As he is not a born and bred Newfoundlander, Matthew Swift won’t try to label his restaurant as a "Newfoundland restaurant". However, he wants to create dishes and use ingredients "that make sense here", inspired by the landscape and what his province of adoption has to offer.
"I won’t pretend that I am from here, says he. I live here, I want to be here, and most of all, I want to be part of this. But I don’t come from it. Food wise, it will be the same thinking."
Matthew plans to visit farmer’s markets, team up with local producers and establish relationships with small brands to feature them all on his menu.
As for said menu, it will be "very flexible", according to the chef. "There are short seasons, but so many things to work with in terms of wild products or seafood. I don’t want to be too attached to one dish. If a product comes only once a year, I want to be able to offer it one week and not the other."
You can expect to find fresh, wild, local and seasonal food on your plate. Wild mushrooms, slowly cooked meats, roasted vegetables, poached fish, and plenty of fresh herbs.
"I will be much more focused on getting good ingredients and do things simply", admits Matthew Swift, who prefers old school cooking techniques to modern, intricate ones. "Roasting something properly is a lot of work!"