By building a deep relationship with Cornish land and sea, the team at St Michaels Resort continue to share their food love story.
Words by Rosie Cattrell
With the stunning stretch of Gyllyngvase beach sand on its very doorstep, and just tucked away from the crowd that can’t resist the beautiful temptation of Cornish sea, in a private oasis all of its own, is St Michaels Resort. Renowned for the luxurious moments of calm and indulgence to be found in the award-winning hydrothermal spa, not to mention lavish rooms in which to lay your head, the food at St Michaels is an attraction in itself. In conversation with Head of Marketing, Stuart Beveridge, I get a taste of the flavours that deserved 2 AA Rosettes, and the refreshingly grounded ethos that seeks to stay connected to Cornish soil and waters.
“We’ve got a bit of a thing for Cornwall,” says Stuart. “The kitchen brigade at St Michaels, led by our Cornish Executive Chef Darren and Head Chef Ady are ludicrously in love with the farms, fields and seas of their home, and they want to serve a slice of that passion, topped with something zingy and seasonal.” Here you can expect fresh, honest and local menus, and a dedicated service crew who will happily talk ‘til they’re medium-rare in the face about the many food stories found on every plate in whichever of the two ocean-facing restaurants you might visit, whether that be the Brasserie on the Bay overlooking the sub-tropical gardens and the dazzling sea, or the laid-back, health-focused Garden Kitchen.
Surrounded by Falmouth’s burgeoning food scene, local boy and Executive Head Chef Darren Millgate is making waves and taking diners on a laid-back tour of Cornish fields, farms and waters at the picturesque Brasserie on the Bay. “One of my earliest memories was going out with my dad on our boat at Portholland to pull up the net and see what was in store for dinner,” Darren reflects with a smile. “Sometimes it was mackerel, or fiddly spider crabs, occasionally bass. The excitement of not knowing what would be in the net still guides me today. This is far more important to me than flamboyance and waste.” Having trained under Michelin-starred Ben Tunnicliffe, learning his trade in the south of France, Darren is back on home turf with a food philosophy centred on honest, Cornish produce. He combines this love of local produce and a high level of training to elevate crowd-pleasers to a new level: “Our food ethos at St Michaels centres on dishes big in local flavours and low in food miles. We don’t need to go far afield to source quality ingredients, we’re surrounded by them.”
On regular trips to the local Newlyn Fish Market, Darren runs his eye over an array of hake, rays, brill, turbot and red mullet, before spending afternoons in the fields of local organic vegetable suppliers WestCountry, getting first-hand experience of their ‘no dig, no fertilizer’ production methods. “We’re all about staying true to our roots in Cornwall, quite literally. Our menus change with the passing seasons and they’re inspired by what’s latest and greatest, whether it’s sprouting from the soil or in season from our local waters. Whatever time of year you visit us, our local food heroes will be firmly in the spotlight. Pretty well everything on your plate comes with a local story.”
For a ‘Med meets Cornwall’ atmosphere, the Garden Kitchen offers laid-back vibes and a menu to tantalise the taste buds. Think wood-fired pizzas, freshly prepared and cooked to order in the open-fronted kitchen alongside salad bowls topped with something zingy and seasonal from local fields. Set in relaxed surroundings dotted with hanging plants and complete with breathtaking views out across the gardens and ocean beyond, summer in the Garden Kitchen is a pleasant experience indeed, while winter dining makes for a cosy atmosphere in which to enjoy the warm comforts of the season. For a slice of laid-back luxury at any time of day, the Bar & Lounge’s comfortable seating areas set in calming hues amongst the convenience of table service makes for the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a tipple of your choice.
Having just launched their spring menu, the team are excited to highlight a particular local, fresh ingredient to give diners the chance to explore Cornwall’s abundant larder from the comfort of their plate. I wonder if Stuart has his own favourites when it comes to the St Michaels menus, and he kindly enlightens me: “Where to start, there are quite a few! The biggest thing that comes across from anything on the menu is the taste of sheer freshness, you can taste it immediately; the flavour and zing really pops in your mouth. Our pan-fried local scallops, accompanied by curried cauliflower puree, tea-soaked sultanas and pancetta has a wow-factor. Equally our pork belly, from the local Primrose Herd, always flies off the menu.”
The relationship that St Michaels shares with the local, Cornish suppliers that weave their way through the ever-changing menus has been carefully nurtured in order to provide the incredible flavours of the county that the team are so proud of. From Da Bara Bakery’s breads and bakes to crab and lobster from the Cornish Crab Company, fresher ingredients couldn’t be found. By favouring WestCountry fruit and veg, Boddington’s Berries and award-winning pork from The Primrose Herd butchers, St Michaels sees quality produce grown and raised on Cornish land onto its tables, to be appreciated in an outstanding Cornish setting. Whether it be the indulgence of an afternoon tea, a comforting Sunday lunch or a dinner with cause for celebration, here is a place where you’re certain to experience a true taste of Cornwall.