Our inventive desserts have a bit of a cult following – imaginative, surprising and totally indulgent – it’s always a pleasure to take one of these beautifully presented plates to a table, stand back and enjoy the collective gasp. Time to meet two of the personalities in pastry – Sally & Lucy – and find out what makes them tick….
Lucy Holland is a St Ives girl, just finishing her stint at the catering department of Cornwall College, Camborne, where she recently won Apprentice of the Year for the second time. Lucy has worked with us at Porthminster for four years, starting on a work experience placement. These days Lucy plays a major role in the pastry section, lending her creativity and enthusiasm to the kitchen team. “Walking into a kitchen for the first time as a young trainee is tough – Porthminster is a busy kitchen with a lot of chefs and it’s also quite small and noisy! You have to be able to block out a lot of the background comings and goings and concentrate on your section and prep,” Lucy tells us.
The Aussie Connection
Head of Pastry Sally is one of a long string of Porthminster chefs who has come to us thanks to our strong Aussie roots. Sally went through the Australian TAFE College system, and began to specialise in pastry when she finished her training in 2009. “I had always wanted to come and work in the UK, and when friends suggested St Ives I jumped at the chance. I remember checking it out on Google and the next thing I knew I was on the little train along the coast, about to arrive. It was a gorgeous sunny day. I had a trial lined up at Porthminster thanks to Joe and Laurianne (ex-staff members, now of Harvest, Byron Bay). Now I’m in my third season!”
Keeping It Sweet
Lucy, who has been working towards an NVQ3 in Patiserrie, has always known this was where her passion lay. “Pastry is colourful, inventive and there’s a lot of fun to be had experimenting with texture. I love thinking about how the different components of any given dessert will work together, and learning skills like tempering chocolate.” For Sally, achieving technical perfection is important, and her eye for detail is something very special. “At Porthminster we are encouraged to be creative and come up with ideas as a team. Working out how those flavours and concepts will actually come together on a plate is the technical challenge for me,” explained Sally.
Like the rest of the kitchen, the pastry section use ingredients grown in the Porthminster garden and foraged from the surrounding area. “We’re using lots of elderflower at the moment, as it’s just about to go over,” explained Sally, “as well as berries from garden, rhubarb and edible flowers. That’s one of the best things about working here – you pick things from the garden and literally use them straightaway. It’s very inspiring and we’re constantly getting ideas from what grows around us.” Lucy shares this fascination with seasonal ingredients, whilst also finding inspiration from her family. “As soon as I was tall enough I was cooking with my Mum and Nan. That was my early inspiration. I keep a book at home full of ideas – it’s got pretty big!”
As well as Lucy’s bold creative ideas and Sally’s elegant technical prowess, the pastry team benefits from the experience of both Michael and Ryan, Exec and Head Chef respectively. Many of the classic Porthminster desserts, such as Deconstructed Pimms and Caramelised Bananas have been honed and perfected over years, and the task is to get them out just right each time. Other new dessert specials, such as the Jaffa Cake Special, are joint efforts. Ryan and Karen (another member of the pastry team) collaborated to create a new take on the Malva pudding, a South African favourite, in this case made with the addition of orange and served with vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate, with a Cointreau gel.
Onwards & Upwards
Both Sally & Lucy have big plans for the future. Both design and make unique cakes to commission (contact email@example.com to find out more). Whilst Sally is looking to attend more specialist courses in London on cake design, Lucy is keen to head off travelling and gain experience working in different kitchens around the world. Ultimately however, she would like to return to St Ives and open her own dessert & cocktail bar which we’re sure will be a massive hit!