Cornish Seaweed, Salt and Chefs!

Top chefs from all over Cornwall met at Rick Stein’s recently opened restaurant in Porthleven to learn more about locally grown seaweed and sea salt.  Students form Cornwall College and Truro & Penwith College worked under Head Chefs Fergus Coyle, Simon Allott and Luke Taylor to create and serve all-Cornish canapés to the guests from Rick Stein’s menu.

On Monday the 16th March 2015, The Chefs’ Forum held yet another successful Cornish event, bringing together hospitality students and prospective employers whilst celebrating local produce.

Cornwall College StudentsThe students’ canapés created under Fergus’ watchful eye proved a real hit with the tough audience of culinary experts.  The delicious morsels were accompanied by a welcome drink of Nyetimber English sparkling wine a great deal of positive feedback on both food and service was heard.

Fergus was very impressed with the students from the two Cornish Colleges, he said:
“I’ve really enjoyed mentoring the students today.  They were all very keen and a pleasure to work with.  It’s really impressive to see the quality of the candidates coming through Cornish Colleges and a great sign for the industry”.

The stunning canapé menu comprised:

All ingredients were kindly donated by local Chefs’ Forum sponsors Total Produce (Bodmin) and Flying Fish (Indian Queens) who help drive down food cost and facilitate these quarterly catering industry networking events.

Neil Irvine from NyetimberNeil Irvine of Nyetimber then conducted an English Sparkling wine tasting for the Cornish chefs introducing four varieties of England’s answer to Champagne.   This high end product is often listed on wine lists next to and replacing the grande marques Champagnes and is an extremely popular choice in prestigious restaurants on a national and international level.  Nyetimber can be enjoyed locally at The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, Padstow, The Ferryboat Inn, The Scarlet and Porthminster Restaurant.

The four wines tasted were:  Classic Cuvee, Blanc de Blancs, Rosé and Demi Sec.

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum commented:
“I think this has to be one of the most popular events we’ve ever done in Cornwall.  The attendance today has been brilliant with over fifty chefs attending and enjoying this quarter’s Cornish event.  It was also lovely to see students from two local Colleges working together and networking with each other as well as employers.  There is a tremendous feel-good factor as we see the next generation of hospitality professionals putting themselves forward and taking part in events like this.

Philip Oakes, Programme Coordinator, Full time courses, Cornwall College Camborne added:
“The College has worked with The Chefs’ Forum, showcasing its students at quarterly events since its launch in Cornwall in 2013.  The Forum’s quarterly events, each with a different theme make for plenty of curriculum enrichment opportunity for our students.  This really motivates and inspires them whilst boosting confidence to approach potential employers.  It is really positive that they are meeting peers from other colleges to compare notes and experiences. Chefs’ Forum events help make our students more work-ready”.

Cornish SeaweedDuring the event, Tim Van Berkel at The Cornish Seaweed Company showcased the various species of seaweed that he grows and harvests on the east coast of The Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.  Species grown include sea lettuce, dulse, nori and serrated wrack – The chefs and students very much enjoyed the tasting session that followed.

The Cornish Seaweed Company currently supply famous eateries on a local and national level, such as Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Fifteen Cornwall, Porthminster Beach Cafe, River Cottage, The Bedruthan Hotel and Barbecoa in London – This event would have encouraged more great Cornish chefs to use these tasty seaweed varieties in their cooking.

Greg Springer of Cornish Sea Salt then wowed the chefs with a live sea salt-making demonstration.  This is another great natural local product being showcased to the culinary experts and a staple ingredient in all professional kitchens.  It is fantastic that this market-leading brand hails from Cornwall.  The salt harvesting plant neighbours The Cornish Seaweed Company on the Lizard Peninsula.

Fergus using Monolith Kamado GrillFergus Coyle and Simon AllottFergus Coyle and Simon Allott, Head Chef of Rick Stein, Porthleven performed two cookery demonstrations from the Rick Stein menu: Mussel masala, then Grilled Cornish Mackerel with Pickled Veg and Cornish Seaweed. He also showed how the seaweed can be used in live-fire-cooking local Mackerel on the fantastic ceramic ovoid-shaped Monolith Kamado Grill – The chefs then devoured beautifully fresh seaweed-smoked fish.  Tim Van Berkel advised in advance that dulse seaweed goes very well with mackerel – This was definitely true – The all-Cornish delicacy was truly delicious!

Photography by Andrew Plant: