FOOD HEROES: FALMOUTH'S MERCHANTS MANOR

PUBLISHED: 11:42 18 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:56 30 August 2017

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Newly-appointed Chef Patron Dale McIntosh from Falmouth’s Merchants Manor has a passion for natural Cornish ingredients

Newly-appointed Chef Patron Dale McIntosh from Falmouth’s Merchants Manor has a passion for natural Cornish ingredients

Falmouth’s Merchants Manor is developing quite a reputation for its food - and at least some of that is due to its head chef Dale McIntosh who’s passion for local produce and foraged food takes him out of the kitchen to source ingredients. Dale has more than 16 years’ experience and has recently joined an exclusive club of chef directors’ in Cornwall. As well as being at the helm of Merchants Manor’s kitchen for two years, Dale has forged close relationships with local producers and suppliers.

How would you describe your food style?

Modern British with a huge emphasis on quality local produce, from rare breed pork to grass fed beef, foraged sea vegetables delivered weekly by hand and organic fresh fruit and veg grown for personally for me.

Who has been your greatest food influence?

Since being in Cornwall I admire Nathan Outlaw (and we are both originally from Kent)! I share his passion for the produce that is on our doorstep, he is very clever with his simplicity that he turns into first class dining.

How important is seasonality in your menu?

I change my main menu a minimum of four times a year with the seasons, it’s very important to utilise the produce at its very best.

What is your favourite flavour of Cornwall?

Cornish native oyster. Many people think of oysters as a sludge of sea watery slime, the natives are a much cleaner flavour than the farmed oyster, try them baked with a cheese and leek gratin or a smokey tomato and bacon crust....

What ingredient couldn’t you do without?

Sea salt...it’s as simple as that. Seasoning is the major key in good cooking, it’s a real art to season properly. If you get it wrong it makes a major difference to the end result.

What was your most memorable meal?

Gidleigh Park Devon Michael Caines.... Two Michelin stars; very impressive meal.

Why did you become a chef?

I started work for my dad as a trainee mechanical engineer...he fired me! It was really not a good move; it was grinding metals and fillings, I hated it, so I started helping a friend in the local pub which led to the kitchens and that is where I stayed and still to this day I love it.

What is your food heaven?

Fois gras, it’s a very controversial ingredient but on top of a slab of grass-fed beef it’s absolute heaven!

What is your idea of food hell?

Just because I’m a chef doesn’t mean I would say automatically that fast food is my hell. In moderation a burger with the kids or a cheeky chicken bucket is not so bad. My food hell is pre-packaged microwave ready meals - it’s just wrong. If you realised what’s in them you would never put that into your body.

What’s going to be big in 2016?

Foraged ingredients: seaweeds, wild flowers and herbs. We have mustards, wild onion, garlic and watercress plus lots more foraged for us on a weekly basis, they are much more flavoursome than the cultivated variety..

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