October 10th 2014

Cornwall will always hold a special place in my heart.  I moved there when I was 12, met my wife there, lived there for over 20 years and I started cooking there.

We moved away in 1998 for me to take my first head chef’s job in Dorset and from then on visits were fairly fleeting.  Opening Sienna in 2003 only compounded that situation!

Through my cooking and the power of social media, particularly Twitter, I have made lots of new friends, many of them in Cornwall and Devon, so the reasons and opportunities to go back fortunately have increased.

I cooked a lunch at the Wellington Hotel in Boscastle last year to promote the Boscastle Festival with then head chef Steve Marsh (now at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth) and returned a few weeks later to join a great line-up of chefs demonstrating at the Festival itself.

This year things dovetailed together even better.  We did our last service before our holiday (and a shoulder op for me) on the Saturday, completed the restaurant closedown early hours of Sunday morning and then headed for Boscastle to join the Cornish Chefs Club for a Q&A session that opened the day’s proceedings in the demo theatre.  Later I did a demonstration with Ben Prior from Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion.

Ben is celebrating his fifth anniversary at the restaurant this month, an amazing achievement.  I ate at Ben’s last time we were down in Cornwall and had a genuinely excellent lunch.  The ambiance, service, ethos and cooking all add up to a great package.  I’m not the only one to think so either; The Waitrose Good Food Guide gave Ben a score of 5 this year for ‘exact cooking technique and a degree of ambition; showing balance and depth of flavour in dishes’, and Jay Rayner gave him a truly excellent review recently in the Guardian.


So to cook with Ben and mutual friend Adrian Oliver from Margot’s in Padstow as part of the anniversary celebrations seemed pretty perfect.  Adrian and I have cooked together a few times before and have done some demos as well.  We first met at the Kaiwecare charity dinner in London a few years ago when Adrian did a top job helping me with my course for the dinner.  Again I have eaten at Margot’s several times now and I really see a similarity in the food we all cook and the restaurants we run.  Smallish venues, small teams, a desire to give a relaxed dining experience and food that is seasonal, regional but, above all, about delivering great flavour.

We took two courses each to create a six course tasting menu and personally I think it all came off very well!  No dramas, no egos, Ben’s fantastic front of house team and his Mum looking after us all. Add to that the support of Ben’s customers, mutual friends, suppliers and family and an exciting evening was had by all in the restaurant and kitchen.

Awesome cooking with you gents!

Add to the mix a wonderful dinner at Rojanos in Padstow, excellent accommodation at  Rick Steins St Petrocs and a few beers along the way and this was a very special start to our holiday!

Many thanks to;

Ben Prior @Cornishkitchen  benscornishkitchen.com

Adrian Oliver @Adrian_Margots  www.margotsbistro.co.uk

@Rojanos @Paul_Dodd14 @PaulAinsw6th @Bosfestival @Rick_Stein St Petrocs Bistro


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