December’s big freeze cost businesses dear. But it did chef Matt Holdsworth a favour.
Expanding pipes led to an expanding business. Totley’s Masterchef deli is about to become a proper little cafe – something customers had been asking for.
Matt tried to accommodate, but the place was so tiny he could only squeeze in four small tables.
He’d have loved to take on the empty place next door, but had no idea who owned it.
“Then came sub-zero temperatures and a burst pipe in the former accountant’s. And finally, we got to meet the landlords,” says Matt.
He got permission to knock two into one and can now seat 40 customers.
Masterchef has nothing to do with the TV programme; the name was invented in 1981 when Matt’s mum Pat and ex Canberra chef dad John set up as caterers on Ecclesall Road.
They hoped to expand with a cafe, but planners said no. “They were told it would never be a place for eating,” laughs Matt. So Masterchef moved to Attercliffe.
He never intended to follow in dad’s footsteps. It was another lucky break that got him there. Though it didn’t feel too lucky at the time.
“I skivvied in kitchens to pay my way on gap years travelling New Zealand,” he says. But one cafe got the wrong end of the stick and put him in charge.
“That first day, I was in a real panic. I had to cook breakfast for 60 – I had to keep ringing my dad in Attercliffe, asking him how to do things.”
Dad got him through, Matt realised he enjoyed it and joined his parents.
Masterchef’s catering hub is still in Attercliffe, but now houses a takeaway and cafe. A deli in Darnall opened three years ago and in 2010 the Totley deli at 185 Baslow Road sprang up. It opens as a daytime bistro next Monday and Matt is busy planning monthly bistro nights. There’s an opening evening this Friday, 5-7pm with free drinks and nibbles.