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Nourishment for the soul

A new dining experience comes to St Michaels Resort, with fresh seasonal menus that put local ingredients and exciting tastes at the fore. Words by Hannah Tapping.


St Michaels Resort has always been known for its culinary excellence. Welcoming Head Chef Darren Kerley to the team this spring, the hotel’s two dining rooms, the AA Rosette Brasserie On The Bay and its brand new Nourish bistro will be showcasing freshness, flavour and sustainability. Darren joins following a successful award-winning, two-year stint at nearby Hotel Meudon, where the restaurant won Silver in the Cornwall Tourism Awards in 2022.

 

Born and raised in Redruth, Cornwall, before starting his career as a Junior Sous Chef at the Dorchester Hotel, ahead of working under Marco Pierre-White at Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons and with pioneering chef Alain Senderens at Luca Carton in Paris. Darren’s food philosophy centres on purity; the quality of ingredients is king, with light cooking techniques to retain flavour, focusing on elevating individual ingredients.

 

Darren also worked on food production in collaboration with Cornish favourite Sabzi during its formative years, and much of that experience has inspired the concept of St Michaels’ new bistro, Nourish. Its menus will deliver a comprehendible plant-inspired menu, utilising small plates and Ottolenghi style dishes that showcase individual ingredients on the plate. The intention is to foster a food lifestyle creating delicious dishes that connect with people.

Ahead of Nourish’s official opening, I ask Darren about his passion for cooking and his approach to running his kitchens. “I actually discovered my passion for cooking slightly later in life than most chefs. I had been searching for my vocation, but once I started working in the hospitality industry I was totally connected to kitchen life, and soaked up all I could every single day. I feel very lucky to have had the experience I have had, even if there have been moments of pure fright working with such distinguished Head Chefs! My approach to food is to leave behind the unnecessary, while constantly sourcing reliable and consistent produce. I like to think that I bring modern thinking to my kitchen. I place much on being calm, practical, honest and loyal, putting the guest experience before anything and ensuring that my team always feels engaged and valued.”

 

Having worked in London and Europe, Darren returned to Cornwall during the pandemic: “hospitality was totally dismantled and there were zero opportunities anywhere, it was a worrying time. I was thankfully given the chance to be part of the great chosen team to relaunch Hotel Meudon and have since loved being back home. Especially now that I have the new challenge of heading up the kitchen at St Michaels Resort. 


I’m excited to discover more about what the ethos will be behind the new food offering at St Michaels: “Wherever I work, my ethos is always to stay honest to the produce and you’re clientele, Nourish will be a pure collaboration between healthy dishes, and both light and robust flavours – think deep-flavoured Ottolenghi-style salads as well as an exciting smaller plate selection. This will allow our diners to  broaden their eating experience. Nourish dishes will have a great price point and a casual dining style in a stunning space.

 

“I’m excited to take forward an already highly successful venue, working towards developing the existing team, supporting them to become the best chefs they can possibly be. It’s being able to head up these kinds of development and transformational opportunities that really drive me. I’m looking to achieve an increase in consistency, an elevated guest experience and bring that high energy to the kitchen that is needed to make a top establishment…and, of course, I’m excited to cook the dishes!”


I can see that ingredients will lie at the heart of the new menus; seasonal and indigenous produce will inform simple but delicious dishes: “I’m a great believer in seasoning correctly, using various salts, sugar, citrus, acids and spices. I love to take a great product and cook it with care: anchovies spring to mind, as does the humble egg, and of course the phenomenal seafood we have access to in Cornwall. Our suppliers will be county-based where possible. Soul Farm, which is only a few miles from us, will provide our seasonal garden produce, with various seafood suppliers delivering their rod-caught and sustainable fish and crustacean catch to our kitchen doorstep. There will also be a few of my favourite French ingredients, and some sourced from Smithfield’s in London, that will grace the dishes.” 

 

While the Brasserie on the Bay will continue to serve a more elevated menu with a European gastronomic feel, Nourish will offer a more casual eatery with dishes inspired by the tastes of Persia and the Mediterranean; think flat breads with smashed cucumber and dill, feta, citrus ricotta and herb emulsion, or succulent lemon roast chicken with miso mayonnaise, rocket, parmesan, chilli and avocado topped with tahini dressing. Salads will be plentiful and fresh, while small plates made for sharing will include such delights as fillets of local mackerel with anchoiade or roast aubergine, almonds, tomato and salsa verde. All dishes can be paired with wine from the carefully curated list or a glass of goodness in the form of a fresh juice.


With a menu brimming with wholesome delights crafted from locally sourced ingredients, Nourish is set to be more than just a dining experience; it’s a celebration of mindful eating with menus that really do nourish both body and soul. The dining area has been completely reimagined and now boasts a wonderfully sunny terrace with views across St Michaels’ verdant grounds to the clear waters of Falmouth Bay beyond. Welcoming both resort guests and visitors, it will offer a healthy connection to the resort’s spa environment, giving diners an exciting and memorable experience.





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