Our new chef and the importance of good suppliers
Write a blog they say…I started working in the kitchen because I couldn’t really talk to people, so this should be fun, my main scare is sounding like a pretentious wally, but I’ve been asked to do it so here goes.
Why work at Trelowarren?
Easy: its incredible, what a place, after selling The Loft in St Ives, luckily for me, I had a few offers of employment but I felt working here I would get to go home happy and that’s priceless, especially as a father. Being a chef is not the best career choice for a father or a husband so when a position came up that would allow me to cook the food I wanted to cook and have some time off at home, I had to jump at it.
I brought Tyler over with me, a young aspirational guy, who is as passionate about food as I am and together we tried to build the foundations of what we wanted to achieve. One of our hero restaurants Faviken actually became the home to our old sous chef Bertie so we recently welcomed Andrew to the team with Dean and Josh (the only remaining member of the ‘old’ guard) who makes a mean pizza!
The first job was finding the right suppliers, easy in Cornwall.
John Tonkin is a local 18ft fisherman from Cadgwith and he supplies us all off our fish. Using local suppliers like John comes with its challenges, I have to text him after service at midnight with what I want the next day, I usually wake up to a text at 5.30am with a different idea of what’s he can deliver. If I’m ever feeling brave enough to ask where the fish is, I get responses like “I’m still fu**ing catching the damn thing.” I never argue.
But this is the kind of challenge a chef wants. By using the freshest top quality local produce, I can get my hands on often means that I don’t always get what I want but it always goes on the menu.
Especially after Brexit we need to start creating a demand for local produce. When you are buying locally, ask WHERE it came from, not the wholesaler it came from, the other day haddock was cheaper from the Faroe Islands than it was from Newlyn and Seabass is always cheaper from Turkey or Greece. In my mind value isn’t always based on the cost, but the quality you get for it.
Our dairy comes from Roddas, obviously the butter we use is 100% made from cream, yes its more expensive, but it tastes 100% better too! It has more milk proteins and it comes from right next to my house, when you come in for dinner we give complimentary bread & whipped flavoured butter, its simple but it tastes amazing.
Our Beef comes from Philip Warren in Launceston who hangs our cuts for two months before it even reaches us, we then store it in fat and the flavour is incredible. The pork comes from Primrose Herd, the chicken from Morvah and our eggs from St Ewe. All these little suppliers are doing immense things for the Cornish food scene, I mean they look after their product, month after month, year after year, feed it in rain and wind, at 5am at 12am, to give it to me. I of course only have a few days with it and yet I get all the praise, write ups and reviews and to be honest, it’s a little unfair. A good chef is nothing without good suppliers.
Now we have our suppliers for the core ingredients we need to start thinking about the rest of the dish and with such an immense amount of land to forage and plant, that’s just what we are trying to do.
It’s going to take time as planting has only just begun with Ollie, the head gardener at Trelowarren, who was amazingly enthusiastic at increasing his work load to try and create vegetables for us that are grown for the whole purpose of flavour, not what they look like. We already cooked all of the pumpkins, apples and plums we had last season but hopefully soon we can be as self sufficient as possible. Sir Ferrers has mentioned buying our own animals soon, so watch this space.
So our brand values in the kitchen I suppose are ethical/native/quality products, if they don’t tick those three boxes they don’t make it on the menu.
I’m quite passionate about this and I suppose come and judge us for yourselves, not by my skills on a macbook whilst drinking coffee in my chef whites but come and try the food, we can promise that the product will be as good as we can find and we will do our best to make it taste as good as we can, with no fancy swipes or teardrops but maybe the odd bit of foam and burnt this and that…. only if its totally necessary… and served on a cheffy stoneware plate 😉