Chef-patron, Philleigh Way Cookery School 

Tell us about yourself and your career so far 
I’m originally from Cambridge, and have moved around the country as a professional rugby player, at clubs including Plymouth and lastly the Cornish Pirates.  

Then you took over a cookery school on the Roseland – a radical change of direction! 
Food has always been the epicentre of my life, whether eating, cooking or reading about it. I began private catering in Nottingham, and it took off; I then set about learning as much as I could, and that hasn’t really stopped. I’ve had no training, so I’m conscious I need to keep learning and seeking out new skill sets to keep up with other chefs. I have an enormous passion for the industry and what it provides. 

How long have you been at Philleigh Way now?  
It will be four years in December. It’s been a bizarre few years – quite the whirlwind! Year one is tough in any business, then throw in Covid and it’s certainly been a challenge. But as they say, anything worth doing isn’t easy. I just strive to stay current, and ahead.  

Tell us about your food  
I’m asked that question a lot, and while I don’t want to sit on the fence… everything! There is no one niche or food I stick to. I eat and cook how I feel, although there are styles I lean towards naturally: Middle Eastern, European… But I try and mix it up where possible so I don’t get stale.  

How would you describe your food style and how has it developed?  
Very rustic, big flavours, bold and simple – a bit like me! It has developed immensely, mostly from my personality but more so from the fierce competition in the county – it’s vital to keep improving. You certainly learn what works and what doesn’t, and I have had a few shockers, but it’s all about refining your offering. Ultimately, though, it’s about sticking with what we are good at: bread, fish and fire! 

What rules do you live by in your kitchen? 
No rules per se – but I can’t stand mess. Being tidy and efficient is key! 

Tell us about some of the courses coming up in autumn/winter 
There are a few things: “Eat well for less” is coming into its own right now, and edible Christmas gifts is always popular at this time of year. We’re also running pop-ups at some super venues around the county, such as Philleigh Way on the Quay, in conjuction with the Hall for Cornwall in Truro. We set up our horsebox outside the theatre, serving pre- and post-show street food with drinks from the Green Room Cafe. Of course, the public are welcome to come and try as well. 

What ingredient couldn’t you live without? 
Onion – it’s the ultimate ingredient. 

What is your guilty food pleasure? 
Pizza. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be that. Breakfast. lunch, dinner. No guilt! 

Philleigh Way Cookery School, Court Farm, Philleigh, Truro TR2 5NB  

Tel 01872 580893, www.philleighway.co.uk