CORNISH FOOD HEROES: DARREN MILLGATE
PUBLISHED: 11:53 15 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:55 30 August 2017
Truro's Bustopher Jones is celebrating the arrival of a new chef and a new menu. We asked Darren Millgate about his foodie influences
Truro’s Bustopher Jones is celebrating the arrival of a new chef and a new menu. We asked Darren Millgate about his foodie influences...
A TRUE Cornish chef, Darren Millgate was born and trained in Cornwall - where he has worked for most of his 15 year career. He has now taken up - what he describes as an exciting opportunity for me to run a flagship restaurant in my home city’.
Darren originally trained on an apprenticeship scheme at Cornwall College and The Nare Hotel - where he spent the first six years of his career before heading to the south of France and working in an old converted cognac estate with a restaurant and bar. He then took on the position of head chef in a busy Italian restaurant in Swansea.
In 2009 he returned to Cornwall and began working at the newly opened Scarlet Hotel under Ben Tunnicliffe. After working his way up to sous chef, he moved to the sister hotel, Bedruthan where spent four years setting up and running the Wild Café as well as taking over operations of The Herring restaurant and all hotel food operations as executive chef.
How would you describe your food style?
I would describe my food as refined but not overly fussy. Flavour is by far the most important aspect of everything that I do.
Who has been your greatest food influence?
There have been a few, but I think Ben Tunnicliffe would have to take the title. A truly inspirational man to work with, he takes his provenance and flavours very seriously and still likes food to be relaxed and enjoyed.
How important is seasonality in your menu?
Hugely. I love that every season provides new flavours to get excited about – but you never have time to get bored because as quick as they come, they go again, and you’re on to the next.
What is your favourite flavour of Cornwall?
Tough question, but I would say freshly caught,
What ingredient couldn’t you do without?
Forum Chardonnay Vinegar.
What was your most memorable meal?
My Dad’s 60th Birthday - with my brother, dad and I. We went fishing and caught lots of mackerel, then rooted around the garden and picked elderflowers, gooseberries and rhubarb.
The end result was barbecued mackerel fillets with gooseberry and elderflower mayonnaise and pickled rhubarb sandwiches, which we ate in the garden.
Why did you become a chef?
I have always loved creating things and a wise man once told me to do a job that people would be happy to pay for.
What is your food heaven?
Something savoury with big flavours, plenty of textures and a load of Cornish vegetables!
What is your idea of food hell?
Over-processed or played with junk food that is lacking in flavour and has no ethics behind it.
What’s going to be big in 2016?
I think there will be more and more growth in families taking the time to eat out together - not just at quick fast food joints, but actually enjoying real food in real restaurants.
Fillet of sea bass poached in coconut broth with chilli sautéed pak choi, crispy lotus root & jasmine rice
4 x 180g fillets of sea bass
400ml tin of coconut milk
1 stick of lemongrass (cut in half and bashed)
2 red chillies
3 star anise
25g coriander (finely chopped)
3 heads of pak choi
200g jasmine rice
1 stick cinnamon
35g onion seeds
Put two star anise, one sliced red chilli and the lemongrass into a saucepan with the coconut milk.
Heat gently for approx. half an hour, then strain into a clean pan.
While the mixture is heating, boil the rice with one star anise and the cinnamon stick until cooked (approx. eight minutes).
Strain the liquid and remove the star anise and cinnamon.
Add the sea bass to the broth and put on a low heat for five-six minutes until tender, then add the coriander.
When the fish is cooked, sauté the pak choi with a seeded chilli for roughly 45 seconds on a high heat.
Finish by sprinkling the onion seeds on the cooked rice and lay the pak choi and sea bass on top.
Enjoy with a chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or an Australian Chardonnay.