G7 Summit chef Emily Scott on the food delights of Cornwall
Chef Emily Scott is all set to cook for the world’s leaders attending the G7 Summit in Cornwall at the Eden Project tonight (June 11).
Her menu will feature spiced melon, gazpacho, coconut and high note herbs, for the starter, followed by a main of turbot roasted on the bone with Cornish new potatoes and wild garlic pesto with greens from the local Padstow kitchen gardens.
A Cornish cheese course will celebrate Gouda, Cornish yarg and Helford blue, while for dessert there will be English strawberry pavlova, then petit fours of clotted cream fudge and a mini clotted cream ice cream cone with chocolate earl grey truffles.
The prestigious dinner comes off the back of having just opened her new Watergate Bay restaurant Emily Scott Food and the release of her debut cookbook, Sea & Shore – a book, which she says has “got Cornwall at its heart”, and offers simple, pared back, seasonal recipes.
Scott took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about the delights of eating and living in Cornwall.
What’s so special about Cornwall for you?
I’ve been here 20 years, and it’s almost like when you cross the River Tamar you come into another land. Even though it’s part of England, it feels quite magical. I spent high days and holidays down here as a child – if I wasn’t in France, we were in Cornwall, so it’s always been a place I’ve known. Being by the sea has been incredible, the connection between the land and the sea, I absolutely love. There’s a real sense of place.
Do you feel welcomed by the Cornish?
Haha, I was married to Cornishman. I subsequently divorced him. So you’re never really Cornish. You’re always an incomer. But, like anywhere, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. But generally speaking, my children, they were born and have grown up here and I do feel very at home and very welcome.
The Cornish food scene seems to be increasingly thriving?
It’s funny, when I first arrived here in 1999, I had a tea shop and you opened for Easter, closed in October and didn’t reopen until April. There was a long Cornish winter. It was always somewhere that felt like it was hours to get to – it was one of those places that felt very far away. And the food has always been cream teas, fudge, sticks of rock, pasties, that kind of thing.
But over the years, it’s just become this amazing food scene. It’s evolved so much, and so many people are just doing amazing things, from my supplier of vegetables at Padstow Kitchen Garden to the fishermen landing the lobsters and crabs, and people growing saffron and honey.
Between the G7 Summit and Covid, are you prepared for Cornwall being the ultimate ‘staycation’ destination this summer?
It was busy anyway, and now it’s busier than ever [with that kind of] bucket and spade holiday. But what’s so lovely is that there are so many amazing restaurants, pubs, bars – so many people doing great things. Coming from London or a city, you can get what you can get at home, which I think people quite like – everyone’s a creatures of habit slightly, aren’t they? And you can get all that now, it’s not like back in the day when you couldn’t get a proper coffee.
What do you hope people will take from Sea & Shore?
For me, it’s all about inspiring people to get cooking. This day and age is quite fast paced, and everyone wants everything immediately. I want to encourage people to rush slowly and to think about their butcher, their baker, going to the greengrocer again, really making those choices. But also, I want people to cook my food and to love the processes of doing that. Whether it’s hulling a strawberry, picking a broad bean or just whisking those egg whites for a pavlova, those things that bring you together as a family.
Seasonality seems to be a theme?
I think the universe has a way of showing us when things are at their best. My menu will have strawberries on it in June, but there won’t be any strawberries in December. So really clicking within the ebb and the flow of the world.
And fish suppers?
My restaurant’s predominantly fish, so I’m a great fan of fish cookery. People can be quite frightened of cooking fish, but actually it’s one of the quickest and simplest things to do, if you talk to a fishmonger. I always think that’s a really good idea because they can fillet it for you.
Are any of the recipes in the book particularly meaningful for you?
You have to be a fan of creme fresh and fennel! That comes up quite a lot. And my grandmother’s chicken soup, which is very comforting, we always had that when we were poorly or needed nourishment.
What’s the best thing to eat after a day at the beach?
We cook a lot over fire and actually monkfish (recipe below) over fire or scallops or mussels, are quick and simple. Something you can pre-prepare. There’s nothing more lovely than cooking over fire as the sun sets. So if I was at the beach, I’d probably plan to stay and eat outdoors and have marshmallows over the fire.
How to make Emily Scott’s monkfish, Cornish chorizo and sun blush tomatoes on rosemary skewers
“Monkfish, or lotte in French, is known as the poor man’s lobster. It is a delicious, robust and wonderful ingredient that I love to cook and eat,” says Emily Scott. “It works so well with bolder flavours, such as curries, or can be cooked over fire or even refined by serving as a ceviche. Here, the combination of monkfish, chorizo and sun blush tomatoes is delicious. Threading them on to rosemary skewers is pretty and adds a depth of flavour to the fish.”
1 x 200g (7oz) jar sun blush tomatoes, drained, reserving the oil1 medium chorizo, about 225g (8oz), cut into 1cm (1/2in) rounds650g (1lb 7oz) monkfish fillet, cut into chunks12 long rosemary sprigs, plus extra leaves for sprinkling100ml (31/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) olive oilCornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of rocket leavesHot buttered Cornish new potatoesMixed leaf salad with edible flowers
1. Preheat a barbecue or grill (broiler) to high.
2. Place the sun blush tomatoes in a large bowl and add the sliced chorizo. Using a skewer, pierce a hole through each piece of monkish, then toss in the bowl with the tomatoes and chorizo. Thread alternately onto rosemary skewers, allowing three pieces of each ingredient on each skewer.
3. Barbecue or grill (broil) the monkfish skewers on all sides, keeping them moving, for a total of six minutes, or until browned at the edges. Drizzle with with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary leaves.
4. Lay the grilled monkfish skewers on rocket leaves and serve with hot buttered Cornish new potatoes and a kitchen leaf salad with summer flowers.
SEA & SHORE: Recipes and stories from a kitchen in Cornwall by Emily Scott is published by Hardie Grant, priced £26. Photography Kim Lightbody. Available now.