With its magical location, breathtaking views and family friendly beach, Porthcurno should be top on your list of places to visit this summer. With a brand new cafe recently opening at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno, we took a trip to Porthcurno ourselves to meet head chef Nicholas George Lewis Usher, and try some of his delicious new dishes.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m from Hertfordshire, I moved down to Sennen Cove when I was five. I began my career in the restaurant business as a waiter and began cheffing at the Old Success from the age of 14. From there I went on to the Beach Restaurant, which was where Axel Barts really brought me on and made me realise that cooking is actually art. He presented food which was beautiful and I was like wow, yeah that’s what really drew me into it.
From there I went to Lamorna Cove and after that I began working at the Gurnard’s Head, where I worked with Bruce Rennie and Gary Rhodes.
I’m still learning so much. I want to experiment a lot more, I have big plans. Charlotte my apprentice, I want to bring her on as much as I can with what I’ve learnt.
Tell us about the cafe
Bright, vibrant tasty food, it just looks great I think. As far as possible all our produce is locally sourced. We get our mackerel from Celtic Fish and Game, which comes from a Cornish smoking group. We do a smoked cheddar panini which comes from Tintagel smoking rooms.All the vegetables and leaves come from my mum’s vegetable business, she has four poly tunnels and grows all her own produce. We bake all the bread and cakes ourselves. I come in here in the morning and just think what have I got? I make the most of the ingredients in season. My specials board is really nice; Cornish Yarg, beetroot salad, smoked salmon, fennel, confit lemon, which I confit myself. I just want it to be simple, honest food. All really tasty, there’s not one thing I haven’t made myself.
When it comes to food, what’s your guilty pleasure? And what’s your ideal meal?
A food which is quite hellish but I think is pretty good is cous cous and chocolate on toast, it’s bit weird. And my ideal meal would definitely be sea bass, with crushed potatoes and some sort of smoked salmon and dill veloute.
What would you say is your signature dish?
My Cornish Yarg salad with toasted pine nuts, beetroot and organic mixed leaves, drizzled with a honey mustard dressing, with cubes of Cornish Yarg scattered around the plate. It’s a good mix of sweet and sour, it’s simple but it’s really good food.
What’s your earliest food memory?
I think it’s got to be my mum’s spag bol. My mum was a cook, she left university about six weeks before graduating, went out in Chester for a drink, met this captain of a German war ship and he said we need a cook. She went all around the world for four years on a war ship and learnt really good Italian based food. It was amazing, I will always remember her food.
When you create new dishes, where do you look for inspiration?
I try and look at different types of food, food that stands out. Something that hasn’t been put together quite as much, something tasty, I experiment a lot at home. To make something that’s wow is hard. I look at books a lot, particularly anything by Hugh Fearnley – Whittingstall. I play a lot of music which is a great inspiration. I try and blend my food with my beautiful surroundings.
When people visit Porthcurno and come to the cafe, what can they expect from their experience?
They can expect a great service, an amazing time visiting the museum and discovering the history; it’s modern, it’s colourful, it’s bright. You’ll feel energized coming here, the food is really energetic, it really stands out. And the scenery, you can’t really go wrong. The source of food, where it is, how it’s made, how it’s presented and the quality of the cooking is very good value for money.
Check out our article ‘Cornish Days Out: Porthcurno’
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