Words by Rosie Cattrell
Blending a love of home cooking with restaurant quality cuisine to create a mouth-watering menu that delivers, every time.
It’s often the meals we experience in childhood that mean the most to us, cooked for us by loving hands and taken with us into adulthood so that we might share inherited recipes and reminisce with every mouthful on a simpler time, when we were only beginning to learn what taste could really mean.
Born in 1974 in Llandeilo, Andrew Dudley found his feet in his grandmother’s kitchen, a Saturday sanctuary for him as a child, where they’d spend the day cooking together on the family farm in Wales. It was here that Andrew discovered a deeply felt love for food and fresh flavours that would forever be linked with the fondest of memories, and to this day he still regards his grandmother as the finest cook he’s ever met, an opinion that truly pays testament to the woman who led him to a passion that put him on the path to success.
To begin his cheffing career with a stylish flourish, Andrew made his way across the English Channel to train at Les Sorbets Culinary school on the island of Noirmoitier in the Vendee, France, the perfect place to hone his skills while working at the Hotel de France in Mortagne-sur-Sèvre. After fine-tuning his earnest passion, he soon found his way to London to exercise his talents at a coveted restaurant credited with being the ‘world’s oldest and finest fish brand’, renowned for its seafood and exquisite dining; Wheelers of St James’s.
Since then, Andrew has accrued a wealth of culinary experience, having worked at the Michelin starred and former Hotel of the Year, Llangoed Hall, owned by Sir Bernard Ashley, not to mention the multitude of accolades that were awarded under his direction as Head Chef for Artisan Leisure, including Welsh Dining Pub of the Year, Welsh Pub of the Year with the AA guide, and Andrew’s own entry to the final of Welsh Chef of the Year. After working as Head Chef for Frolics in Southerndown and maintaining the Michelin Bib Gourmand set down by owner Sandra Saye, who Andrew still regards as the best chef he’s ever worked for, he went on to take over the restaurant for the next four years. With innumerable experiences behind him, Andrew and his family felt the need for change, and it wasn’t long before a new life on Cornish shores presented itself.
Cornwall’s wonderfully diverse natural larder makes for an exciting playground for any chef, and after seven years of running Food for Thought and The Boathouse, Fowey, Andrew found his way to The Plume of Feathers in 2019, the latest establishment for him to impress his culinary stamp, and he remains there today.
Set in a 16th century dining-pub, rich in history and Cornish heritage, The Plume of Feathers is home to a tantalising world of fresh flavour and unique tastes, framed in low oak beams and palm-fringed gardens, coupled with a calming mantra that you can’t help but breathe in as you enter; ‘eat, drink and sleep in comfort’. Thoughtfully converted barns, stables and hen houses, decked in the natural hues of Farrow & Ball with country-style furnishings, welcome you into luxury beds after an evening of fine food amongst friendly faces.
Described by Andrew as ‘classic pub food with an imaginative twist’, the modern British cuisine on offer is a delightful contrast to the cosy, historic setting of the coaching inn, and I came to wonder what it is exactly that inspires The Plume of Feathers’ menu today. For Andrew, his favourite Cornish ingredients include fresh fish and wild garlic, with a particular love for plaice and a well-cooked fish and chips. However, it’s those classic dishes that take centre stage at Plume, from the beloved fish and chips to a dish of ham and egg, it’s all interwoven with inspiration taken from the land and sea that surrounds us.
The vegetable thali, accompanied by a pav bhaji, spiced root vegetables, charred garlic broccoli, spiced carrot and apricot chutney, biryani gravy, lentil crumb, coconut rice and a pav bun, is a masterful experience of Cornish flavour, while their Ham and Egg dish features their own roasted glazed ham with an indulgent Scotch egg, pickles, onion relish, and creamy slaw served with cheesy ham and leek croquettes. Andrew’s playful twists on familiar arrangements have also found their way into the dessert menu, with The Coffee Jar consisting of a jar of tiramisu, espresso ice-cream, with cranberry and pistachio biscotti. Their signature dessert, I Love Strawberry, uses one main ingredient in a playful mess of assorted styles and textures, a delightfully sweet paradise for any lover of the summer-time fruit.
Making the most of the rich natural larder that Cornwall’s land and sea provides, sourcing ingredients locally is key for the team, and this is truly reflected in their ever-changing menus, echoing the changing seasons and the choice of produce grown, reared and caught right here in the south west. “Our menu is all about bringing the best of Cornwall’s food and flavours to your plate,” explains Andrew. “With a bounty of renowned local suppliers at out fingertips, our menus celebrate Cornwall’s foodie offer from land to sea, as curated by our talented chef team. We’re committed to serving seasonal dishes using quality ingredients, that are great value for money.”
Always on the lookout for fresh ideas and growing trends, Andrew’s finger is truly on the culinary pulse: “Healthy eating and simple dishes are the biggest trends right now. Being able to taste vegetables is key, and there’s been a real move towards vegan and plant-based eating.” And it’s not only the carefully selected flavours that blend so well together in a wonderful harmony, as Andrew so kindly continues: “The key to a great kitchen team is everyone having each other’s backs, enjoying the work and being organised; it’s about loving what you do and being passionate about it. A calm kitchen is the real secret to success.”
Whether you find yourself sat in the cosy pub by the crackling open fire, or in the airy light of the calming conservatory, there’s always a delightful choice of fresh flavours to be enjoyed at The Plume of Feathers, and with an extensive accompaniment of beers, ales, spirits and soft drinks from Cornwall and beyond, you’re sure to find the perfect pairing for any palate.