Chefs Reunited!

This year the St Ives Food and Drink Festival reunites Michael with a chef he worked with many years ago and many miles away – the other side of the world in fact.

Our Exec Chef Michael Smith is originally from Victoria, Australia, where he trained at Donovans – a much-loved and highly acclaimed Italian restaurant on the beach-front in the trendy St Kilda area of Melbourne.

Michael’s mentor in the pastry section was Helen Goh, who he remembers as endlessly imaginative and intensely hard-working. She inspired a deep respect in the young chef for the work involved in the pastry section, and for the endless possibilities of creating desserts and cakes which were both beautiful to behold and devour. This manifested itself in the ‘Sweet’ section of Michael’s own recipe book, Porthminster Beach Café – The Cookbook, published in 2013.

Although the two lost touch, Helen also moved to England and has worked closely with Yotam Ottolenghi as the lead product developer for the past ten years, drawing widely on Asian, Western and Middle Eastern influences – and of course, on her love of sweets.

In the stunning new baking and desserts cookbook – Sweet – Helen and Yotam bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.

Michael and Helen will be reunited for the first time at the St Ives Food and Drink Festival, which takes place at Porthminster Beach from 11 – 13th May. For more information on demo times visit www.stivesfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

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Win A £100 Voucher

Do you have a favourite recipe from our cookbook?

If so we’d love to see your versions of our signature dishes, whether you stick to the recipe faithfully or give it your own twist!

Next time you cook your favourite take a quick pic and send it to us via email (pminster@btconnect.com) or social media (using the hashtag #MyPorthminster).

At the end of April our Executive Chef Michael Smith will choose his favourite entry – the prize is a £100 voucher to spend on food and drink here at the cafe. Happy snapping!

Our Executive Chef Celebrates 15 Years At The Helm

Michael Smith, our Executive Chef here at Porthminster Beach Café, is celebrating the start of his 15th year of beach-side cooking.

Originally from Victoria, Australia, Michael came to Cornwall in search of a great food scene and Britain’s answer to the beach lifestyle; he fell in love with St Ives and has made it his home.

Michael recalls: “I was working in London and I kept hearing about this mythical place with amazing produce, sandy beaches and decent waves – I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself! I knew St Ives was special as soon as the train rounded the bend and I caught my first glimpse of the town.”

The talented young chef was quickly recruited by the owners of Porthminster Beach Café, who recognised the time was right to take the food at the white-washed, art deco-style eatery up a notch or two.

Chefs are known for being a peripatetic bunch, but not Michael, who over the years has worked to make his chosen workplace a well-loved food destination with an international reputation; he has remained a constant presence in the kitchen throughout.

Following in the footsteps of Rick Stein, Cornwall’s original food hero, Michael put fresh local seafood centre-stage, adding his own twist with recipes and ingredients inspired by Australia’s Pan-Asian cuisine, his experience of working in top Italian restaurants, and his surf-driven global travels.

Taking advantage of our restaurant’s unique location, he helped create a coastal kitchen garden, and was one of the first chefs in Cornwall to introduce foraged ingredients into his menus.

In 2006, Michael helped the public gain an insight into the life of a busy restaurant kitchen in the series Beach Café, which aired on Discovery’s Travel & Living Channel.

He is also responsible for dreaming up Porthminster Beach Café – The Cookbook, a collection of signature recipes, and has been a driving force behind the St Ives Food & Drink Festival, which is held on the beach outside the restaurant each year.

Cornwall’s growing attractiveness as a year-round destination – partly fuelled by a buoyant food culture – now allows us and other restaurants to stay open all year, providing steady employment and career progression for hospitality professionals.

Michael has no plans to take a step back, saying: “I want to be here for another 15 years; it’s a fantastic place to live and work.”

He added: “Despite my management responsibilities, I still get to cook almost every day. There will be challenges in the years ahead, but I’m excited about what the future holds for Cornwall’s food scene.”

Festival Dinner Brings Together Top Chefs

Please note that booking for this event is via email only – see below for more info…

We are thrilled to announce that we will be hosting a Festival Dinner as part of the St Ives Food and Drink Festival this May – with dishes by Mitch Tonks, Jack Stein, Jose Pizarro, Gizzi Erskine and Sophie Michell.

Porthminster Beach Cafe will be the setting for a culinary tour-de-force, as five of the country’s top chefs get creative with Cornwall’s unrivalled local produce.

The St Ives Food and Drink Festival runs over the weekend of 13th and 14th May; the annual event sees big-name chefs and award-winning producers descend on the sands of our very own Porthminster Beach – a unique setting for one of the UK’s most spectacular food festivals.

The restaurant is a key festival partner, helping to facilitate the event each year.

The dinner will take place on Saturday 13th May; the five-course menu, which will shortly be released, is priced at £60 per person and booking is exclusively via email (pminster@btconnect.com) on a first-come-first-served basis.

With so much culinary talent arriving on our doorstep, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring some of the chefs together to devise a menu which celebrates the bounty of St Ives Bay. The Porthminster team is looking forward to working with Mitch, Jack, Jose, Gizzi and Sophie to deliver a truly memorable experience for our guests.

A percentage of the profits from the dinner will be donated to Surfers Against Sewage, to help preserve the beauty of Porthminster Beach and others in Cornwall.

Spaces are expected to sell out quickly, so early is booking recommended!

If you would like to book, please email pminster@btconnect.com with the subject ‘Festival Dinner’, specifying the number of guests and a contact phone number on which to reach you. Note that full payment will be taken in advance. 

Porthminster Beach Café in National Restaurant Line Up

We are pleased to announce that Porthminster Beach Cafe has been recognised as one of the top dining destinations in the UK at an awards ceremony which took place at The Hurlingham Club in London on Monday 29th June.

We were one of only 3 establishments in Cornwall to be recognised at The National Restaurant Awards.

The awards are voted for by industry experts and cannot be entered; restaurants have to be nominated by their peers – chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and critics – the number of nominations are then counted to reveal a list of the top 100 places to eat in the UK.

Ryan Venning, who has been Head Chef here at Porthminster for the last three years, said he was overjoyed with the ranking of 61, saying: “It’s such a great achievement to be recognised as one of the best 100 restaurants out of every single establishment nationwide.”

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He added: “On this list we are ranked alongside so many restaurants that we as chefs really admire, and have been placed there by industry experts.”

From humble beginnings, our Beach Cafe has made a name for itself over the last decade, emerging as one of the best places to enjoy fresh Cornish seafood – which is cooked with Mediterranean and Asian influences by a talented brigade of chefs.

Dishes such as Monkfish Curry, Salt & Pepper Squid and Deconstructed Pimms generated such a cult following that they have been immortalised in Porthminster Beach Café – The Cook Book, bringing the signature Porthminster style into kitchens across the country.

Michael Smith, Executive Chef and one of the owners of the restaurant commented: “We have a fantastic team in place at Porthminster Beach Café under Ryan’s experienced guidance; this national recognition is a testament to everyone’s hard work.”

He added: “To me this shows the continued strength of our offering at Porthminster, and proof that a busy restaurant on the beach can compete on quality with fine-dining establishments, which serve far fewer numbers.”

Ryan and Front of House representative Pete Foulkes attended the lavish awards ceremony on the banks of the River Thames, where they mingled with other stars of the industry and sampled food and drink in the grounds of the exclusive Hurlingham Club.

After celebrating, both are now back in Cornwall and ready for the busiest weeks of the year, which will see hundreds of people flocking to Porthminster to enjoy award-winning dining on the beach.

New Harbourside Dining Destination From Porthminster Team

Our eagerly anticipated second venture, Porthminster Kitchen, opened in April, bringing a new kind of creative dining to the heart of St Ives.

A year in the planning, our new location offers an alternative dining destination above the hustle and bustle of the town’s harbour, combining the same high standards with a fresh new approach – and an equally awe-inspiring view.

Porthminster Kitchen Image Med Res

Porthminster Kitchen serves up a refreshing, playful take on Cornish cuisine, introducing a menu of smaller plates and lighter options combining global flavours, local ingredients and creative cooking.

Michael Smith, Executive Chef of both restaurants, explained the thinking behind the new venture: “We wanted to create a more casual dining environment where people can enjoy inventive but affordable food.”

Appetisers are £3, starters £5-£7 and main courses are priced at £11-£17.

He added: “We have also stripped out much of what is unnecessary; dairy and gluten take a backseat in favour of light, vibrant ingredients.”

The restaurant, which enjoys stunning panoramic views of St Ives Harbour, is also light and airy, with a more urban feel than our beach restaurant; rustic wood flooring, stainless steel, industrial lighting and stark white tiles are complimented by huge windows and mirrors – ensuring that the view remains the star of the show.

Diners can watch fishing boats return with their catch – shortly to make its way to these very tables – and admire a vista which has inspired many generations of artists, including Anthony Frost whose work adorns the walls.

Head Chef at Porthminster Kitchen is Lee Wilson: A South African-born chef who has worked with Michael for many years, Lee’s other experience includes spells at Peirre Koffman’s in Knightsbridge and Jason Atherton’s flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social, as well as a stint as personal chef to the Qatari Royal Family.

Lee is embracing the challenge at Porthminster Kitchen, saying: “We’ve spent months experimenting with dishes in order to produce a fresh and exciting menu; the food is designed to allow people to create their own tasting menus by choosing a succession of small dishes – it’s a really relaxed and informal approach.”

Lee arrived in St Ives 11 years ago and, despite taking several high-profile jobs elsewhere, he says he has always felt an inextricable pull to return.

He explained: “You hear it so many times but we really are blessed with amazing produce and an inspirational food culture in Cornwall; Michael and I have both travelled and worked all over the world and it speaks volumes that there is nowhere else we would rather be.”

The restaurant also has two self-catering rooms available, which enjoy the same impressive views of the harbour. These can be booked via No. 27 The Terrace.

Reservations at Porthminster Kitchen can be made for dinner only. Call 01736 799874 to book.

To find out more, please visit http://www.porthminster.kitchen/

Discover the wild food of St Ives Bay

It’s the start of a new season at Porthminster, and we’re looking forward to rediscovering the wild food of the seashore and coastal path as nature comes to life this spring. No doubt as our understanding and knowledge of every inch of our surroundings is fine-tuned, we’ll be introducing new dishes inspired by our finds as the year progresses. We hope you’ll come and see what we’re creating!

The aptly-named Navelwort....

The aptly-named Navelwort….

Once again in 2014 we are offering the chance to join us and Caroline Davey of Fat Hen, local forager and ecologist, for a Forage and Feast experience. A day of exploration providing a unique insight into the wild food of St Ives Bay, these events start and finish at the Café, and involve a guided walk and a three course lunch featuring foraged ingredients.

Spring dates are as follows:

March 3rd

March 17th

Prices £50pp

Please book via the Fat Hen website.

Fat Hen pioneered foraging and cookery courses when it was launched more than 5 years ago.  Having recently returned from maternity leave, Caroline is relaunching with an impressive new cookery school at her renovated barn near Penzance. Specialist wild food courses in fish, game, seaweed & wild Italian cookery are on the curriculum. There will be a chance for everyone to get involved, including a fun foraging and cooking club for children, kayaking and cycling foraging routes, and gourmet wild food weekends.

Caroline has inspired many people to begin using foraged ingredients

Caroline has inspired many people to begin using foraged ingredients

However Caroline is also happy to be returning to work with the team at Porthminster for Forage and Feast 2014. “Porthminster is a stunning and inspiring location. Micheal and his team are dedicated wild food enthusiasts, keen to make the most of their unique surroundings. The food they create with the seasonal ingredients we find has really impressed me every time we have done an event together. It’s very creative but also refined.”

Michael Smith, Executive Chef at Porthminster added, “alot of the things that we forage along the seashore work inherently well with the delicious fresh fish and shellfish of St Ives Bay. Small touches can really enliven dishes, adding exciting colour and fresh flavours. These wild foodstuffs are out there waiting to be discovered and can easily be used at home.”

Please book early as spaces are filling up quickly. More Forage and Feast dates are planned for the autumn.

Searching for seaweed....

Searching for seaweed….