FOOD HEROES: TOM HUNTER
PUBLISHED: 18:31 18 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:56 30 August 2017
Serving up sophisticated food that's never pretentious, meet the new head chef at Cornwall's The Scarlet Restaurant in Mawgan Porth
Serving up surprising and sophisticated food that’s never pretentious, we meet the new head chef at The Scarlet Restaurant in Mawgan Porth and find out more about his passion for good Cornish food
Tom Hunter won three rosettes from the AA during his time at Well House Hotel, St Keyne before moving northwards to Warpool Court Hotel in Pembrokeshire. But this year he followed his heart back to Cornwall, joining the Scarlet Restaurant at Mawgan Porth in March. He describes his approach to food as no-nonsense’ and his menu as Cornish, fresh, sensitive and interesting’ and is passionate about getting his hands on the freshest, most interesting local produce, often from unique producers, like the Modern Salad Grower, who share his passion.
How would you describe your food style?
Our style follows the Scarlet philosophy. It is produce driven, always fresh and sustainable in a modern style.
Who has been your greatest food influence?
It would have to be my old head chef Glenn Gatland (from The Well House, St Keyne) He had a very relaxed style and was very patient but also had very high standards which has influenced me.Glen has a simple approach to food which inspired my own food style.
How important is seasonality in your menu?
Seasonality is essential in our menus as we work with passionate local producers and suppliers that follow the Cornish season.
What is your favourite flavour of Cornwall?
It has to a traditional Cornish pasty!
What ingredient couldn’t you do without?
Cornish sea salt it is essential in everything we do. We even use it in one of our desserts to balance the sweetness in our treacle tart.
What was your most memorable meal?
My most memorable meal would be Gidleigh Park (Chagford, Devon). Stinging nettle risotto with snails and frogs legs to start. Cornish veal with watercress and a raspberry soufflé. Brilliant it was perfect from start to finish.
Why did you become a chef?
When I was young I enjoyed cooking and trying new foods. It seemed like the logical choice as I had a bit of a natural flair. I have never wanted to do anything else, it allows me to be creative and work doing something I love.
What is your food heaven?
My food heaven changes all the time, but at the moment it is something simple like Rick Stein’s fish and chips or a simple fish soup.
What is your idea of food hell?
I really don’t like chefs using chemicals in their food, they call it molecular gastronomy. Leave it to the experts like Heston!
What’s going to be big in 2014?
I think there will be an increase in old-fashioned growing methods. These methods produce heritage varieties of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots and beetroot. This produces a far more natural flavor which is what chefs and customers are looking for these days.