Taking a G&T by the beach to the next level…

We’ve recently released a small batch of our very own gin, crafted with botanicals from the Cornish coast. And, just in case you’re stuck for somewhere stunning to drink it, we’ve launched an alfresco bar too!

Earlier this year, Executive Chef Mick got talking to Steve Dustow from Colwith Distillery (makers of multi-award winning Aval Dor Vodka). It wasn’t long before the conversation turning to gin, and the two came up with a cunning plan to create a spirit which would encapsulate Porthminster’s unique location.

“Clearly there are a lot of great gins out there,” said Mick, “but meeting Steve gave us the opportunity to make a really high quality spirit that is infused with ingredients sourced right on our doorstep. It was a chance we couldn’t pass up!”

Mick and Steve explored the kitchen garden together, and also walked the chefs’ regular foraging route to Porthminster Point. They selected various wild finds, including Pepper Dulse, Rock Samphire, Alexander and Sea Buckthorn. These were added to a pure Cornish spirit made from potatoes – not from an imported grain spirit or Russian vodka, no cutting corners here!

Up at Colwith Distillery near Fowey, Mick and Steve tried putting a small batch through the still and, after a few adjustments, believe they have created a unique Porthminster take on a London dry gin. “It has a distinctive coastal edge which works so well in our G&Ts. We love serving it with lime, samphire and purple violets.” said Mick. “The bar team are enjoying experimenting with Porthminster Gin in various cocktails, and in the kitchen we’re using it in some of our desserts.”

The release of Porthminster Gin coincides with the launch of a new Garden Bar here at the beach. Set just back from the restaurant, with incredible views over the bay, the new bar will specialise in G&Ts and cocktails and promises many a memorable sun-downer during the summer ahead.

A great start to 2019, thanks to you!

The entire team here at the restaurant have been celebrating this month, after Porthminster was named ‘Best Restaurant’ in the South West at the 2019 Food Magazine Reader Awards.

This award is really special to us because it’s down to votes from our customers that we made it through to the final, where we were up against tough competition from across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bath and Bristol.

Executive Chef and Co-owner Mick Smith said he was overjoyed with the award and heaped praise on all our fabulous chefs and front of house staff, following our busiest year to date in 2018.

He said: “Every member of the team has contributed to this award, as we continually strive to deliver great food and service in a busy restaurant. Last summer was particularly intense with very high cover numbers and the hot weather, so I want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved.”

Three of those team members – Stuart Cobb, Magda Kaminska and Joanne Wiggin – were given the task of collecting the award at The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth on 28th January, where they enjoyed a celebratory feast and wine flight as the winners were revealed.

The annual awards recognise the very best restaurants, cafes, pubs, chefs, hotels, producers, retailers and cookery schools in the South West; this year saw 25,000 individual votes cast across the 12 categories.

Jo Rees, Editor of Food Magazine said: “Porthminster Beach Café, and all the finalists, exemplify the leading, creative and ground-breaking food and drink businesses we have in the South West.”

Thank you so much to those who voted and helped us get through to the final. We really appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you soon! 

It’s Official: Our Executive Chef is Food Hero of the Year!

The Cornwall Life Food & Drink Awards, which celebrate the county’s food and drink champions, were presented at a celebratory event at Carbis Bay Hotel on 1st November and we are pleased to reveal that our Executive Chef, Michael Smith, was amongst the winners!

After fifteen years at the helm here at the beach, Michael was named ‘Food & Drink Hero’ of 2018. This award is reserved for an individual who “goes the extra mile to promote Cornwall to a wider audience and is passionate about local produce throughout.” The winner of this prestigious award must also be someone who truly champions the vibrant local food scene and who has helped make a positive difference to their team, community and the food and drink industry as a whole.

Carol Burns, Editor of Cornwall Food & Drink presented the award, and said in her speech:

“Cornwall is not short of incredible food and drink and chefs that know how to use them. Michael Smith perfectly reflects Cornwall’s attitude to food – creative cooking and original dishes, incorporating the best of our local seasonal produce, and all in a very relaxed inclusive atmosphere that makes the most of the beautiful views on offer in one of Cornwall’s favourite harbours.”

Carol noted several key factors in naming Michael as this years’ winner. For example, he was one of the first chefs in Cornwall to feature foraged ingredients in his dishes on a regular basis, and has invested a great deal of time and effort in establishing a kitchen garden opposite the restaurant. By training new chefs in foraging and caring for the garden, he actively spreads this knowledge and passion for the wild and home-grown ingredients which flourish in our coastal environment.

Michael has also been proactive in promoting sustainable seafood and supporting charitable causes such as The Fisherman’s Mission. He is 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.

It has been such a memorable year here at Porthminster, and this award has been the icing on the cake! Thanks to all those who have played a part in our success – including the whole team and all our fantastic customers. We look forward to celebrating with you soon!

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.

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.