Tag: Guest Tutor

This summer we have a new regular guest tutor starting with us. Christian Sharp will be leading all of our Fish in a Day seafood cookery courses, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join the team. Christian is one of the best fish chefs in the country, having trained and worked under Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall and London and then going on to work as Head Chef at Tom Brown’s award-winning The Cornerstone in Hackney Wick. He’s now back in Cornwall, and we’re very lucky to have secured him to share his knowledge, skills and experience on our fish courses.

Christian led his first course last week, and just before it we sat down to ask him some questions about his career and his love of fish cookery.

chef christian sharp holding up two fish outside philleigh way cookery school in cornwall

What was your journey into cooking in professional kitchens?

My journey into professional kitchens is probably a bit different to most other chefs. I first started working in a kitchen back when I was a teenager, working in a bakery and deli, and then at the local pub. I went off to study IT at Truro College and then after a gap year I went to study IT at university. I decided though that the classroom was no longer for me and that I was much better at learning in a hands-on environment, so I left university and I decided to comeback to Cornwall. I approached Nathan Outlaw on a bit of a whim. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I just needed a job and I had all this kitchen experience from working in Di’s Dairy and at the Pityme Inn in Rock through my teenage years. Nathan decided to take me on as a commis chef at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock back in 2012. Whilst working there I joined Cornwall College and went back to study part-time to get my level 2 and 3 qualifications. I went from commis to demi chef de partis, then chef de partis, and I then went to work at The Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac and was a sous chef there when we were awarded a Michelin star. I then went back to St Enodoc and ran the Seafood and Grill restaurant until we closed down the operation there in 2015 to move to London for Nathan.

chefs nathan outlaw and christian sharp

And how did you end up specialising in cooking fish?

That all came about because I learnt my trade under Nathan Outlaw. It was very fish focused. I would say that I was also fortunate though, because working in St Enodoc Seafood and Grill and at Outlaw’s at The Capital we were also cooking with meat, so I had a fairly broad culinary education. I’m happy that I’ve ended up focusing on fish, though. I love fish and working for Nathan and then for Tom at The Cornerstone, and it’s part of my Cornish heritage. My grandfather was a crab fisherman from Port Isaac, a long time ago, and so it’s something that’s very close to my heart.

fisherman holding a crab

You were part of the vanguard of young Cornish chefs who worked under Nathan Outlaw and took London by storm in 2015 (?). What were those years like, initially at Outlaw’s at The Capital and then at The Cornerstone?

Just before we moved to London, I closed down the St Enodoc Seafood and Grill. Tom had already moved up there because at the same time Nathan was opening a restaurant in Dubai. It was a big transition period throughout the company. For me, moving to London was massive – I was excited but it was the first time that I was properly moving away from home. I’d been on a gap year and been to university, but home was always home and this was the first time I was leaving my parents house really. Going to work out at Outlaw’s at The Capital was an eye opener and a bit of a culture shock, but it was brilliant. Even though it was the same kind of food, Nathan’s food, it was a completely different restaurant. It was amazing. I was surprised that St Enodoc never got a Michelin star but The Capital did, because it was exactly the same, really. It was the same food, the same standard, the same team. The Fish Kitchen had a Michelin star, but I think I took it for granted at the time. Coming to work at this five star hotel in the middle of Knightsbridge was a whole new experience though, especially at 24 years of age.
After a year or so at Outlaw’s at The Capital I was ready to take the next step in my career. Tom had always had plans to open The Cornerstone and going to work with him there was a great opportunity. The Cornerstone was my first head chef job. It was a massive new arrival on the restaurant scene in London and we took it by storm. I don’t know if we were quite ready for it! I put my absolute all into it, but there was no self-care and I was just all about the restaurant. I would do anything that I could to make sure that the restaurant was successful. We hit the ground running super fast, but it definitely took a toll on me – it started to impact on my health and wellbeing. My mental health started to suffer and so that’s the reason that I left and have come home to Cornwall. I still love the restaurant to bits and I keep in touch with some of the team there still. I’m working at Flying Fish now, supplying fish to the best restaurants in the country and am really excited about these courses at Philleigh Way. It all carries on my passion for fish. I love cooking it, dealing with it, supplying the restaurants in London with the best fish. I feel like I have so much to offer in that field. I’m looking forward to giving back to the industry.

christian sharp demonstrating how to fillet lemon sole at philleigh way cookery school

From where or whom do you take your inspiration?

Because I worked with Nathan and Tom for so long, that’s very much led my cooking style in terms of it being simple, seafood cookery. I don’t like to overcomplicate things, I’m more than happy to do fish with a sauce and some vegetables. For me you’ve got to keep that fish nice and simple. If you buy the best fish then you don’t want to mask that flavour. So my inspiration originally came from Nathan, and from Tom. I like to read a lot from Mitch Tonks, I think his seafood cookery is amazing. I also like to step outside of my box in terms of the different kinds of flavours, but then simplify it so that I’m not taking all those flavours and detracting from my fish.

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of provenance and some of the issues surrounding the fish that we eat. What opportunities do you see for positive change and how do you hope to see things develop?

People are definitely becoming more aware about that. Across the world there are issues with harmful fishing practices, and that’s come to the public’s attention again recently. Fish is very good for you, it’s full of omega 3 and a great source of protein. I feel that we should always know where our fish has been sourced from and how it was caught. Your local fishmonger should know this (if they don’t, then you should probably find a different fishmonger!) There has to be traceability, and there has to be sustainable fishing methods. If you buy line caught fish from British day boats, or even fish that has been gill-netted, they’re more sustainable fishing methods. We have good fishing practices in Cornwall and all around the UK. So find out where you fish comes from. It’s the bigger picture, when you start looking at imported fish, and in lots of other parts of the world there are problems with overfishing. If we look after our local fish stocks then we shouldn’t need to worry about it.

fishing boat in padstow harbour

If you could bust one myth about seafood, what would it be?

Lots of people say that seafood is difficult to cook, but for me this is not true. One of the things that I’m looking forward to sharing at Philleigh Way, is how fish doesn’t need to be difficult to cook, or overcomplicated. I want to share simple, unique and delicious ways to cook seafood. Some species are hard to get hold of, but I’ll also use species that you can get hold of really easily from supermarkets and show that it needn’t be intimidating

chef christian sharp teaching fish cookery at philleigh way cookery school

Do you have a favourite dish, to cook or to eat?

That’s a really difficult question to answer, because when I’m cooking fish, it really depends on the time of year. In the summer, who doesn’t love putting a mackerel on the barbecue? Then in winter, something nice and meaty like monkfish. It all depends on what fish is in season at that time, when that fish is at it’s best, that’s when I’m going to enjoy cooking it the most. The top restaurants only really use fish that’s in season because that’s when it’s at its best.
I love cooking turbot on the bone and just basting it with butter, or something as simple as cooking a fillet of lemon sole that takes less than a minute. I love eating all fish, and I love Nathan’s versions of a cream based sauce, it’s basically a mayonnaise but it’s let down with stock and you get the same effect as a cream sauce but it’s a lot lighter. It’s so clever. But then also I don’t mind just a nice piece of fish kept very simple, with a lemon wedge and a bowl of potatoes. Let the fish shine.


Having worked for and alongside so many other talented and high profile chefs, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

I’ve been given a lot of advice over the years, although I’ve not always taken it all onboard! The one piece that I stand by every day is not necessarily to do with the kitchen though.
Because I was so stuck into my career and wanted the best for the restaurants I worked at, I really damaged myself. So the best piece of advice was from a chef called Phil Howard. He used to have The Square and I worked with him at Elliston Street for a month or so. It’s helped me get back to where I am. It’s simply that you need to look after number one. You’re the most important person to you, and if you don’t look after yourself then how can you do your job?
I worked hard. I worked long hours and hard shifts, and I didn’t look after number one. I would probably still be cooking in London, if I had. But I burnt myself out. I’m back in Cornwall now, but I’m not disappointed about that at all. It was a tough time, but now I’m back, and I’m settled, and I’m getting a different kind of enjoyment from cooking. Now I get to share all of my experience from the top fish restaurants in the country with all of the people who’ll be coming on these courses, which I’m really looking forward to.

And what piece of advice would you share with enthusiastic home cooks?

Always use what’s in season. The best ingredients, when they’re at their best. It’ll elevate everything. When an ingredient is that good, the less you have to do to it. Give yourself plenty of time. Keep it simple.
And, a workman should never blame his tools but a good pan, a good knife, and a good chopping board will help you no end… you’re only as good as what you’re using. Treat yourself to some of that.

chef christian sharp demonstrating fish filleting at philleigh way cookery school

What skills and recipes are you looking forward to sharing on your courses at Philleigh Way?

Coming from fish restaurants, the temperature of your frying pan or the cooking method and technique is going to be something that I really want to share on these courses. For example, if I was going to pan fry a piece of hake I’d use a hot pan, if I was going to pan fry gilt head bream, I’d start off in a cold pan. I love the variation in how to cook fish. Even not having to cook fish! I love eating raw and cured fish too, so we’ll be looking at some of those recipes. Little tips, like lightly curing your fish before cooking, to draw out a bit of the moisture and firm it up so that you can pan fry flaky fish like hake and cod and it’s easier to cook and it doesn’t fall apart in the pan. I want to share my tips for how to get the best results from your fish, because it can be an expensive ingredient and I want people to enjoy cooking it, and enjoy eating it.

chef christian sharp teaching fish cookery at philleigh way cookery school

Christian’s next Fish in a Day cookery courses at Philleigh Way will be taking place on Saturday 7th August, Wednesday 8th September and Saturday 23rd October.

Click here to book your place.

On July 9th Great British Bake Off 2020 quarter finalist Marc Elliot will be joining us at Philleigh Way for the first of his baking courses. Marc’s an incredible baker with a particular passion for dough, and as well as sharing his knowledge of bread and enriched doughs, he’ll also be teaching attendees how to make everyone’s favourite Portuguese pastries, pastéis de nata.

Marc lives just up the road in Padstow, by way of Leicester and latterly Sheffield where he was previously a fixture of the Peak District climbing scene. A talented climber, he started surfing when he moved to Cornwall, where he has worked as a support worker, a bronze resin sculptor and photographer. In 2016 Marc was involved in a motorcycle accident and was injured so badly that his left leg had to be amputated above the knee. Whilst rehabilitating he discovered baking and a talent turned into a passion that led him to the iconic GBBO tent. Last summer Marc was one of 12 contestants who formed a bubble with the cast and crew of the hit Channel 4 series for seven weeks so that the competition could go ahead despite the pandemic. He made it as far as the quarterfinals, picking up fans and garnering a huge amount of support along the way. Last year’s series was Bake Off’s most popular yet, attracting a peak audience of 10.4 million viewers – partly perhaps because of the explosion in the popularity of baking and the sourdough trend through 2020s lockdowns. I’m really excited that Marc’s going to be leading some special courses as a guest tutor, and can’t wait to welcome him to the cookery school.

plaited brioche loaf baked by marc elliot

Marc, you shot to fame when you reached the quarterfinals of the Great British Bake Off 2020. What was your journey to the famous Bake Off tent?
It started four years ago after my accident, because of a need to do something as I was incapable of climbing or surfing, or going out and wandering the moors taking photographs like I was used to doing. I needed something to challenge myself with and stimulate my mind whilst I was still in a wheelchair. One day I thought to myself “I’m going to start baking bread”. It turned out really well and I found that it was really calming and helped the anxiety/depression/PTSD – whatever you’d call what I was experiencing at that time. It grew from there into a hobby and then a passion. My daughter’s always been a big fan of The Great British Bake Off and for the last few years has been saying that I should apply. Last year, just to keep her quiet, I applied and lo-and-behold, I got on!

Considering your creative background [Marc’s also a resin sculptor and photographer] why did you choose baking bread as opposed to another activity such as painting to help your rehabilitation?
I suppose it wasn’t really an obvious choice, and wasn’t an area that I thought I’d ever go into, coming from a very active background as a climber and surfer, and channeling my creativity through photography. But, after the accident, my whole world was pretty much ripped apart and turned upside down. Although I didn’t have the physical or even mental capacity to even think about going climbing again, or wandering the moors, I still needed something. I’ve always had a very busy mind and I need to challenge myself and it was just by chance that one day I decided to bake some bread and it lit a spark. It developed slowly at first, it wasn’t an immediate thing, but it grew to be something that I’m very passionate about. Baking’s here to stay!

enriched loaf baked by marc elliot

GBBO covers so many different disciplines within baking. What did you think were your strengths and weaknesses going into the competition? Did any of your bakes surprise you?
Certainly my strength was bread. That’s the thing I’ve had most experience in and the area I’m the most comfortable with. My weakness was and probably still is, cake. I can bake cakes but I wouldn’t describe myself as a great cake baker because I don’t really have the patience to finely decorate cakes as many people can. I can bake a cake and it’ll taste good, but going into the competition it soon became apparent in week one with the failure of the David Bowie cake, that cake wasn’t going to be my strong point!
I say that cake’s my weak point but on week four when I made the white celebration cake, that really did surprise me because I panicked a bit and changed it right at the last minute. I made that on the day without practicing. It was a completely new idea and it turned out well. Also the ice cream cake, that surprised me as well. The judges really liked that.

bakewell tart by marc elliot

Were there any bakes in particular that you were hoping would or wouldn’t come up?
Not really, but I suppose the one technical bake that I was the most disappointed with was when we were asked to make éclairs on pastry week. That particular day was incredibly hot – I was on my knees with the pressure and the heat and my mind just went blank. That whole bake was pretty much a disaster – my choux pastry was awful and the crème patisserie was too! I wasn’t particularly worried about that challenge turning up, but I was disappointed with my performance when it did.

What is it that you enjoy so much about working with dough?
You’re working with so few ingredients – with sourdough you’re only working with three ingredients! I like using the best ingredients and then it comes down to the importance of being really methodical, being patient, and having good judgement when working with dough and yeasts and cultures and ferments. That part of it fascinates me. I enjoy the science, and making those judgements is something that I find quite therapeutic.

sourdough loaf baked by marc elliot

What’s the best tip that you picked up from Prue, Paul, or any of your fellow contestants?
Going back to pastry week when I did the éclairs, Prue gave me a really good tip, which I do every time I make choux now. That was to take them out ten minutes before they’re cooked, then pierce the bottoms, turn them upside down and cook them for the final ten minutes. You then leave them in the oven with it turned off and the door slightly ajar. They’ve been coming out amazing – so I think that’s a really great tip. When you pierce the bottom and turn them upside down that lets all the internal steam out so you get a really nice, crisp and dry choux shell.

What advice would you give to any enthusiastic home bakers?
For me, it’s about being methodical. Get it all planned out. Read the recipe, get all of your ingredients out and weigh them out, and just be organised. I think that really helps. Also, just follow trusted recipes. Unless you’re designing your own recipe, follow a recipe that you know people have made and had good success with. I’ve found there are a lot of dodgy recipes on the internet! Find a trusted baker and use trusted recipes.
I think it’s important to know and expect that you’re going to fail sometimes in baking, that’s par for the course. Try not to get frustrated with that and use it as a period for learning rather than for berating yourself. As a self-taught baker I made a lot of mistakes and still continue to do so, and I have to remind myself to use that as an opportunity – which is easier said than done, sometimes! Finally, enjoy the process. Often I think that one bakes wanting to get to the end and see the final result, but I think that enjoying the process from the start to the end is a really important piece of advice also.

brioche loaf baked by marc elliot

What skills and recipes are you looking forward to sharing on your courses at Philleigh Way?
I’m looking forward to sharing my brioche croissant and pastéis de nata recipes. They’re really good recipes. The pastéis de nata are such amazing little tarts but they’re quite involved to make and I’m looking forward to sharing those skills and seeing what people can make with those.

pastéis de nata portugese custard tarts baked by marc elliot

Cornwall’s a county with its fair share of signature baked goods. As an adopted Cornishman, what’s your favourite and why?
I think it has to be the pasty. Cornwall’s got lots of good bakes, from saffron buns to clotted cream cakes and things like that, which are all nice, but I think that for me, it’s hard to beat a really good Cornish pasty.

Marc’s Baking Courses will be taking place on Friday the 9th of July and Saturday the 18th of September. To join him for the day, click here:

It’s officially baking season. Baking and pâtisserie is a branch of cookery that often borders on science, demanding attention to detail and patience to perfect. Few people are as dedicated to the craft of patisserie as pastry chef and 2018 Bake Off: The Professionals finalist Darryl Collins. We’re fortunate to have Darryl regularly share his knowledge and skills as a guest tutor at Philleigh Way, leading our Patisserie Masterclass course. We sat down with him to find out more about pastry and pâtisserie ahead of his next course on October 31st.

pastry chefs darryl collins and Bharat on bake off the professionals

My theory to this is that to be a good pâtisserie chef you need to have an artistic level of thinking with a scientific mind. You need to look at the ingredients at a molecular level and not just as something that you use to hold things together.

patisserie items on a plate

I honestly believe that anyone can become a decent pastry chef with the right training and guidance but I don’t believe that anyone can just become a great pastry chef by accident. I’ve been a pastry chef for over 20 years and have also worked with many chefs and pastry chefs over those years – some extremely talented chefs and others that seem to just be doing it for a job. With pastry, it has to be a career choice. It has to be something you absolutely love and live for; there is no in-between.

patisserie cakes macarons and eclairs by darryl collins

For hobbyist bakers, I think I’ve already proven that you can do fine patisserie at home as well as in a professional kitchen. Since lockdown I’ve been running Yumii Pâtisserie from home and I was still able to create cakes, éclairs and so on. It’s about persistence in what you’re doing and trying different techniques. Hobby-wise, you’re looking on Instagram and other places like that for inspiration and then putting recipes together and playing around with them until you achieve what you’re looking for and what you think is right.

afternoon tea by darryl collins

My advice to home bakers looking to take it up a notch is to see if you can get into a professional kitchen. Not all kitchens will allow non-professionals to go in and check out that side of things, but some will. You can always approach a kitchen to see if you can get some experience. Or, courses! You can go up to Ruth Hinks’ in Scotland at Cocoa Black because they do lots of courses, there’s a place in Banbury at Callebaut Chocolate where they have a Chocolate Academy. I’m obviously teaching a patisserie masterclass at Philleigh Way if people want to come and hone their skills, and we normally do that three or four times a year. These things aren’t free, but they’re the best way that you can pick up professional skills as a home baker.

pastry chefs darryl collins and Bharat, finalists on bake off the professionals

The key elements to pâtisserie, as with all food, are taste, flavour, texture and looks. These are a must as several senses are involved – we eat with our eyes too!

Taste and flavour are probably of paramount importance. I’ve eaten in quite a number of restaurants and hotels and I would say that perhaps 70% of the desserts I have eaten have been of a poor quality. This is simply because they have been a case of style over substance, and something looking great on a plate but then tasting of nothing but sugar. I work on the flavours first and trial them with many different people well before I start to think about what it will look like on the plate.

The importance of texture is for mouth-feel, not so much for looks. When it enters the mouth it obviously can’t be grainy, it’s got to be smooth and pleasant so that you don’t think “hmm, what is that in my mouth?” Everything has to blend together. Texture is so important, not so much for your hands but

How something is plated and presented is highly important, even though it is something that is so often overlooked. We eat with our eyes first, then we get the aroma, and finally the taste.

These are the only guides a pastry chef needs to understand to be successful and to have a good understanding of patisserie. Knowledge is the key to all. If you want to do this for a living then train hard, listen to others but most of all be true to your passion and yourself. Then over time you’ll be able to excite people with your flavours and impress with your talents and skill as a pastry chef. The same goes for home bakers who want to wow – patisserie is a craft that you need to spend time learning.


On the next Patisserie Masterclass that I’ll be teaching at Philleigh Way at the end of October, I think that because it’s Halloween we’ll be doing something along that theme. We’ll make some pumpkin macarons, and we’ll do some choux buns – probably again with some sort of Halloween theme! That way I can teach some high level skills, but we can have a bit of fun with it all at the same time.

Click here to secure your space on Darryl’s Pâtisserie Masterclass on October 31st.

Ahead of our upcoming foraging course on Saturday August 22nd, we went for a walk and talk with guest tutor Emma Gunn – professional forager and the author of the Never Mind The Burdocks series of books. Emma told us about her career as a forager, and shared some great tips and recipes to give you a glimpse of what you can expect if you join her course here at Philleigh Way.

Emma, how did you find your way into becoming a full time forager and an author and authority on wild edibles?

I got into foraging at a really young age. We used to move quite a bit when I was growing up and when I was about 11 we moved from Singapore to Chester. With all the moves I would quite often start school a term late and I remember just reading a lot at the time. I found a book called A Book of Potpourri by Gail Duff and it described how plants could be used for so many different things. It was more medicinal, but that just really fascinated me. When I was about 14 I came across Roger Phillips book Wild Food and that was it; that was where it began. I would take myself out with my rucksack, my imitation Swiss Army penknife and the Wild Food book and I would have a look and see what I could spot. My dad would take me out picking elderflowers and blackberries and so on, and it was nice family time. I genuinely couldn’t believe how much plant life there was around me, and how much edible stuff too. How I got to where I am now was probably down to my “seize the moment” mentality – I think life is short and you’ve got to make the most of it, and I decided that something that I wanted to do was write a book. I thought, “Well, the one thing that I do know about is wild food” so that is where I started. I planned out an edible for every single day of the year, and because there is so much information it then got split into the four seasons. During the whole process I was learning at the same time. I loved the process. Also, because I have worked at Eden and Heligan for over twenty years now I got quite well known that way and managed to build a name for myself.

Why do you think that reconnecting with the food that grows all around us is such an important skill for people to relearn?

I think reconnecting with the food that grows all around us is such an important skill. It connects us to the land and it makes us aware of what is around us, and therefore it makes us care for what’s around us and the environment. I couldn’t really imagine living anywhere else now. I travelled about a lot growing up and loved it, loved all the plant life that I saw, loved the different cultures, but now because I moved so much I actually feel like the plant life is like family that I feel a connection to and I don’t think I could move away from it to somewhere with different plant life and plant niches, which sounds kind of funny. I never really had an anchor and Cornwall has become that anchor, especially when you build a connection with plants.
When I do foraging walks I quite often get young couples, old couples and individuals, families and so on, and this really brings people together. I’ve had parents message me afterwards and say “you won’t believe it, my children never touch anything green and would never eat salad, but since they’ve been on a walk with you they’re actually eating healthily and are pointing at things in the hedgerows and have remembered so much of what you said” and I love that so much. Hopefully it’s broadening people’s food palates, it’s helping people to reconnect to the environment around them and therefore becoming stewards almost, to protect the land.

What’s the thing, fact or plant that most surprises people when you take them foraging?

It’s actually one of the most easily identifiable plants that I expect every forager shows their group, and that’s sorrel. Some people have had it before, but watching people’s faces who’ve never tried it, from a fairly small leaf, the intensity of this sour green apple flavour really blows people’s minds. I think that a second one would be pineapple weed, because a lot of people have said “oh my God, we used to play in fields and we could smell this pineapple smell and it reminds me of my childhood but I never knew what it was” and when they get to try the plants and taste that the flavour is as strong as the fragrance, that’s a fantastic thing. I love watching people’s faces light up at these incredible flavours. Maybe a third one would be pepper dulse, a seaweed which is one of the tiniest seaweeds but the flavour is crazy, it’s like a buttery garlic fish pepper punch. It’s incredible. It gets called the truffle of the sea and you don’t need much when you’re cooking with it.

You’re a cook and chef as well as a forager. What’re your favourite wild ingredients, and how do you like to use them?

My favourite wild ingredients… this is a really hard one because I’ve got way too many! But, I’ve tried to narrow it down to sea buckthorn, ramsons, elderflower, ramanas rose and black mustard.
Sea buckthorn is out at this time of year (August time). It’s intense, really sour orange berries that grow in estuarine or coastal conditions. It’s like those intense sour sweets you might have eaten when you were younger. The vitamin C content is so high. Because it is such a sharp flavour it actually goes well with buttery things, so something like a sea buckthorn curd or as a cheesecake is definitely one of my favourites.

Ramsons, otherwise known as wild garlic… I can never wait for the ramsons to start popping up in the springtime. Ramson pesto is definitely a favourite and so, so simple too. Toasted seeds, maybe toasted flaked almonds works really well, olive oil, seasoning and then some washed ramson leaves blitzed up together makes such an amazing pesto which goes well with loads of things. Ramson garlic bread as well…. Anything garlicky, stick ramsons in!

Elderflower, there’s all the obvious ones but I think my favourite probably is elderflower cordial and something that I like to do with it is freeze it and then bring it out around Christmas time so you can do elderflower champagne. I love that. With cordials you can make elderflower delight, elderflower tarts… you can use it with so many things.

Ramanas rose is the coastal intense pink rose that’s flowering and fruiting now, so it’s got massive rosehips. They’re so juicy. A lot of rosehips are quite hard and have a lot of seeds in, and yes these have seeds in too and as with all roses you need to take the seeds out because they have tiny hairs that can irritate. But again, right now at this time of year the rose petals can be used to make preserves, jams, jellies and so on and it keeps that incredible rose flavour, and the rosehips are a great source of vitamin C, simply done as a syrup and served with Greek yoghurt and pistachios.

The last one is black mustard. I love black mustard so much. It’s kind of like a sweet wasabi, and the intensity of flavour is exactly the same, so it reaches a peak and then it stops. It’s incredible. If you’re making sushi then add on a piece of black mustard leaf or flowers right at the end, and it keeps the intense heat. Or you can wilt it and use it like a spring greens – it tastes a little bit like purple sprouting once you’ve steamed it, or even black mustard crisps work well. In an oven (keep an eye on them) and just a little rub of sunflower oil and sea salt and you can make amazing crisps.

You’ve written books covering foraging throughout the seasons. What’s your favourite season for foraging, and why?

That’s a really difficult question! I do love autumn, especially now from August into September because you get so many fruits, nuts and berries. You have coastal stuff all the time, so I love wintertime because of going down estuaries and you have all the evergreens but also shellfish and seaweeds through the winter – it’s one of the best times really to collect seaweeds. But then I also love springtime because you have ramsons and incredible spring flowers including things like magnolias, flowering current and lilac. All of them, the flavours are just incredible. Magnolia tastes quite ginger-y and works really well as a spice. Flowering currant has quite a blackcurrant leaf flavour and is quite perfumed as well. Lilac is quite indescribable – very floral and works nicely in cakes. It’s like asking to choose a favourite child or pet! I like all of them.

And with such a range of environments here in Cornwall, and particularly around us here at Philleigh Way, what’s your favourite environment to search for food in?

My favourite environment has to be estuaries. There’s always a plethora of edibles such as plums, sea purslane, cockles, oysters, sea beet, sea arrowgrass and marsh samphire. Where two different niches come together you quite often get a lot of edibles in one space. When people say “could you do a woodland forage”, yes I could but it can’t be dense woodland because you don’t actually get that much stuff in a woodland. If it’s a mixed woodland, so you have deciduous and evergreens, and there’s a lot of dappled shade and there’s paths, hedgerows and so on, then you get a lot more stuff, so an estuary where the land and the river or sea meet together you get an intense pop of edibles. I love estuaries so much and I find they’re quite often fairly quiet places, so getting away from beaches, cities obviously at this time of year, walking down beside a calm body of water and picking and eating as you go, you can’t really get better than that.

What will you be looking for whilst leading the foraging course here on August 22nd, and what will you be teaching attendees to make?

On the course I will be looking for some of the usual suspects like blackberries and hazelnuts, but also hoping to find wood avens for the clove-like flavoured roots, honeysuckle should still be flowering, elderberries, maybe some mustards, pineapple weed. Where we’re heading, we’ll be going down a lovely country lane so great hedgerows there, across a field so there may be some nice wild edibles in that, through or near a woodland and then down towards the estuary where I’m really hoping to find some estuarine edibles. I’ll do a forage before the event and Rupert and I will pre-prepare the food; we’re thinking along the lines of things like hazelnut praline at the moment!

For anybody who can’t join this course to learn the secrets of foraging with you, what would be your one top tip, plant or recipe to help them get out there and discover the world of wild edibles?

For anyone who can’t join me then if you’re going out foraging by yourself my top tip would be to start slowly, go with the most easily recognisable plants – things like blackberries and nettles. It doesn’t matter if you know about blackberries and nettles already, it’s a really good place to start experimenting with flavours.

The more confident you become with things you know are edible, the more you can go on to branch out and try new flavours and new edibles. Go through the seasons, and start slowly. When you’re picking plants check the quality of the plant and make sure it’s not yellow or wilting, and doesn’t look diseased because think of it as any other food. If you see anything like this the plant could potentially have been sprayed and you don’t want to eat that, so think about quality. Use really good ID books on foraging with really good pictures and read the descriptions of the plants and also read about the look-a-likes too because it’s really important to know what to avoid as well as what to look for. Something to try if you haven’t done it recently, or with foraging in mind, is to walk down a country lane near where you live, or even if you live in a town walk through the town because there’s some great edibles about. Go in mind of what is out there, and what is available at this time of year. Keep doing it and you’ll recognise more and your confidence will grow.
Probably the simplest or loveliest recipes definitely, one of my all time favourites, has to be nettle soup and a really good tip with this is to season it well, use crème fraiche if you can (or some sort of creamy product), and also blitz it too because you don’t want a stringy soup. And you can’t beat blackberry jam or a blackberry and apple crumble! There’s something crazy like 300 different sub-species of blackberries here in the UK, so you will get a whole assortment from big fat juicy ones to sour ones, slightly salty ones, tiny ones, just use them all and a good squeeze of lemon juice always brings the flavour out.

To book your space on our foraging course led by Emma on Saturday August 22nd 2020, click here. Tickets cost £50 per person.

Wishlist 0
Continue Shopping