This month we joined Head Chef Paul Stephens and Junior Sous Chef Ian Trevaskis of the kitchen team at Bustophers Bistro in Truro where we talked childhood memories, famous foodie influences and the appeal of this bustling bistro.
Bustophers aims to preserve their rustic, down to earth approach to both their traditional bistro food and the atmosphere that welcomes clients. As well as the restaurant the establishment also welcomes passers by for a morning coffee using freshly ground Cornish coffee beans or an evening tipple after a long day in the office, or for the more intimate occasion there is a private wine cellar and separate conference room available for private parties and functions.
What makes Bustophers so appealing?
Paul- I think it’s a combination of both the atmosphere and the quality of the food, we have reverted back to more classic bistro style dishes to get more families who might be tempted by more affordable prices.
Ian – Bustophers has developed a strong reputation between diners and local businesses in Truro. It’s been here a long time and has a strong client base.
Do you think you work well as a team and is this important?
Paul – It’s important to work well as a team in the kitchen and create that balance of professionalism and friendship. We spend a good 14 hours a day together so if you don’t get along that would create issues.
Ian – You spend more time with your work colleagues than you do with any of your friends and loved ones so a good working relationship is key.
How do you decide on new dishes?
Paul- Generally we take a moment to find out which ingredients are in season and then we all sit down as a team and discuss possible options. New dishes are then presented via our specials board to test the water and see which dishes deserve to be incorporated in to the menu. None of the dishes remain static we’re always making little changes to keep them fresh and different.
Where would you say your passion for food stems back to?
Ian – My passion for food really traces back to my time working abroad, I used to work in New Zealand and cooking was always an enjoyable hobby for me. I’m generally just a foodie and love both cooking and more importantly eating.
Paul – My passion developed from more of a work point of view, and I didn’t initially have any interest in becoming a chef. The idea came to light following a food photography project, which involved going in to the kitchen and getting up close with the chefs as they worked. I enjoyed the atmosphere and so started some shifts as a chef and gradually grew to love it.
Who would you say is your main clientele?
Paul – In terms of clientele we generally find that it varies and that we tend to get more families at the weekends and couples and businesses during the week. Although slightly set back from the centre of Truro we find that we are extremely central for businesses.
Which dishes from your menu are the most popular?
Ian/Paul – We find that are most popular dishes are either the burger or the lamb shank. People generally choose the burger as a safe option and the lamb is always good at this time of year as a warm, comforting dish. We also have a new range of fish dishes on our specials board everyday, so this tends to sell out a lot of the time.
Do you source all your ingredients locally?
Paul – We try to source all of our produce from local suppliers. I have meetings with our vegetable supplier and obviously look at what ingredients are in season.
Ian – For our fish specials we have a conversation with our fishmonger every morning to find out what they have fresh that morning from the market. So what we serve that evening is freshly caught that morning.
How would you describe each of your cooking styles?
Paul – We all have different skills and come from different backgrounds, so we try to incorporate all of these together. I have been trained more in fine dining where as our Sous Chef, has been trained by Gary Rhodes, also I have worked in many bistros in London so there are a number of skills and experiences to combine. I would never want to pigeon-hole myself in to having a particular style.
What are your earliest food memories?
Paul – My earliest food memory would be when I was eight or nine and I decided to experiment with cheese. I would put it on a plate and melt it in the microwave and then roll it up and eat it.
Ian- When I was growing up I remember my mum always baking buns and little cakes and me and my brother used to fight over who would lick the wooden spoon.
Who are your biggest influences in the food world?
Paul – My biggest influence in the food world would be Heston Blumenthal, although we don’t use many of his inventive ideas in our menu I enjoy his experimental technique.
Ian – Mine would have to be Gordon Ramsey and Tom Kerridge who is the owner of two Michelin star, Hands and Flowers gastro pub in Marlow.
Are you looking to make any changes to the menu?
Paul – We’re working on a new menu now, which is more of a Bistro style with comforting dishes like hotpots.
Venison, red cabbage slaw, parsnip and red wine sauce
One of favourite dishes at the moment, very seasonal with the game and it has a nice temperature contrast with the coleslaw, which is served cold. Serves 2.
2 Venison steaks
1 small red cabbage
1 cartons apple juice
1 apples, grated
1 onions, diced
Knob of Butter
1 bottle tonic water
Thyme, picked and chopped
100ml red wine
1litres venison stock
1 litre chicken stock
1 onion, sliced
1 star anise
1 packet candied beetroot
To make the slaw, slice the red cabbage, removing any stalk, and place in a pan. Cover with apple juice and cook on a low heat until the cabbage is soft. Remove the cabbage and allow to cool. Reduce the liquid to syrup. Once cooled, add the syrup to the cabbage with enough mayo to blind. Finish with the grated apple.
To make the puree, peel and dice the parsnips. Put in a pan with the diced onions, thyme, a couple of knobs of butter and the tonic water. Cover and cook on a low heat until the parsnips are soft. Add a splash of cream and blend until smooth.
To make the sauce, caramelise the sliced onion with the star anise. Add the wine and port and reduce by 2 thirds. Add the stocks and reduce to coating consistency.
Season the venison steaks, and cook in oil in a hot pan for a couple of minutes on each side. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. The steaks should be served very pink, if cooked anymore the meat can become though.
Quarter the candied beetroot and warm slightly under the grill.
To assemble the dish swipe the parsnip puree across the plate, and place the coleslaw on top. Fan the beetroots alongside the puree. Slice the venison and place on top of the coleslaw. Finish with the red wine sauce.
Bustophers Bar Bistro
62 Lemon Street