Cornwall LivingIssue #102
A look at just a few of the top Cornish kitchens and chefs across the county.
Cornwall’s foodie scene has never been more eclectic and vibrant. At a time where many of our normal pleasures have been curtailed, eating delicious food, shared with friends and family, has come to the fore. The Duchy’s gourmet champions are leading the way when it comes to producing exceptional food in incredible locations. From household names to new chefs on the block, each has their own unique take on how to best use the incredible larder that Cornwall has to offer.
Michelin-starred chef, Paul Ainsworth (paul-ainsworth.co.uk) cut his culinary teeth in some of London’s top restaurants, working under the expert tutelage of the UK’s finest chefs. Alongside his flagship restaurant Paul Ainsworth at No 6 and the more relaxed dining experience at Caffé Rojano, both in Padstow, Paul has recently taken over The Mariners public house in Rock. All focus on championing the best of local produce and creating dishes with seasonal ingredients. It was Paul’s move to Cornwall that taught him about seasonality, whether that be Cornwall’s freshest seafood, its lush larder of vegetables, or meat from local herds.
Nathan Outlaw (outlaws.co.uk) is no stranger to a Michelin star himself, and has become known in foodie circles as ‘the king of fish’. He says that time spent working under the tutelage of Padstow’s grand master of fish, Rick Stein, was the most significant influence on his career. He went on to open his own restaurant at the tender age of 24, combining his passion for Cornwall and working with fish and seafood. His flagship Michelin-starred kitchen, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw closed earlier this year, reopening in July as Outlaw’s New Road. Outlaw wanted to make a conscious change to a traditional a la carte offering and one that had a more inclusive dining experience. The Outlaw family of restaurants also includes the aptly named Fish Kitchen which offers small seafood plates, cooked to order.
Talking of Padstow’s grand master, no round-up of Cornish chefs would be complete without Rick Stein (rickstein.com). His approach to seafood cooking has influenced much and many within Cornwall’s culinary circle. The Seafood Restaurant opened its dining room 45 years ago and remains the flagship restaurant in the group. Forays into French bistro dining at St Petroc’s, café culture at Rick Stein’s Café, pub fayre at The Cornish Arms and casual restaurants with takeaways have kept the Rick Stein stable current and vibrant. The Stein family passion for fresh fish remains as true today as it was in 1975.
New to the Duchy’s foodie scene, but no stranger to the south west, Michael Caines (michaelcaines.com) opened his first Cornish restaurant, The Cove earlier this year. Overlooking Maenporth Beach, the menu here is classic Caines, with a relaxed, informal approach. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner can all be enjoyed with an emphasis on locally caught, locally sourced ingredients. The same can be said about his brand-new venture in Porthleven, The Harbourside Refuge. Expect modern takes on English classics, in a historic harbour location where much of the fish and shellfish on the menu is landed right outside the door.
Cooking up a storm in St Ives, the restaurants in the Porthminster Collection, overseen by Executive Chef and Co-Owner Mick Smith, all have ocean front locations but their own unique style. The elegant menu at Porthminster Beach Café (porthminstercafe.co.uk) draws on Mediterranean and Asian influences and dishes are enhanced by produce grown in the restaurant’s own coastal kitchen garden, as well as ingredients foraged from the clifftops. Porthminster Kitchen (porthminster.kitchen) has a more laid back vibe but retains the collection’s ethos of combining global flavours with local produce, while the hidden gem that is Porthgwidden Café offers an at-ease, cosmopolitan, beachside dining experience that is family friendly inside and out, and dog-friendly on the covered terrace.
With accolades aplenty across Cornwall’s chef community, it was Ben Tunnicliffe (tolcarneinn.co.uk) who was among the first to be awarded a Michelin star in the county, held at The Abbey in Penzance at the turn of the millennium. Tunnicliffe chose to forgo his fine dining heritage and today is widely known and loved for an unpretentious combination of fresh fish, real ales and convivial atmosphere at his pub, The Tolcarne Inn in Newlyn. Along with head chef Matt Smith, the two have also recently taken over the old coaching inn, The Packet at Rosudgeon (thepacketinn.co.uk). Fish, as you would expect, features strongly on the menu, alongside meaty treats, and the feasting format is a selection of small plates, designed so you can sample a variety of dishes.
Outdoor dining is de rigeur across Cornwall. It’s always been the case that we’ve gravitated to al fresco eating, drawn by the combination of a mild climate and views that complement the experience of an informal meal. Simon Stallard and Jemma Glass (hiddenhut.co.uk) run The Hidden Hut at the back of Porthcurnick beach on the Roseland, where they have transformed what was once a ‘snack shack’ into a foodie destination that has received national acclaim. The food is all about freshness in spring and summer, comfort in autumn and winter, and flavour all year round. Seating is all outdoors so you need to be prepared for whatever the weather might throw at you, but it’s certainly worth braving the elements for.
In a county that boasts so many exciting places to eat it’s hard to be definitive. These are just a few of the ‘culinary captains’ that make Cornwall a true foodie destination. And the best bit is, you can embark on your own culinary adventure. Wherever this may take you, you’ll find exceptional chefs and incredible places to eat at every turn and with such a bountiful larder on the doorstep, kitchens across Cornwall are pushing food to new heights. At a time when the hospitality trade has been hard-hit by recent events, we are thankful to the Cornish restaurants and their chefs who have worked so hard to keep Cornwall safely on the foodie map.
Read all about it!
Some of Cornwall’s top chefs have their own cookery books so you donít have to be in Cornwall to sample their delicious dishes; you can create your own culinary masterpiece at home.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
by Nathan Outlaw (Bloomsbury Absolute – £40)
The Hidden Hut
by Simon Stallard (HarperCollins – £20)
Rick Stein’s Secret France
by Rick Stein (BBC Books – £26)