Independent Shopper: Hylton Espey, Culture

11 July 2022, 12:08 PM
  • Hylton Espey, head chef at Culture Restaurant, discusses the importance of locality and seasonality in his food
Independent Shopper: Hylton Espey, Culture

Culture Restaurant is situated on Custom House Quay in the historical town of Falmouth. In the days of Sail, some of the first news would come into Custom Quay and then make its way to the capital. In the search for our restaurant location, we wanted to have a natural space with an old feel in a historical location near the water.

My menus will be changing constantly with the tides, seasons and harvests. Experiences visiting farms, foraging in the woods or gazing across the Cornish landscape during a surf inspired our menus. We are focussed on reducing food waste and offer one menu which allows us to order exactly what we need and prepare it to the best we can.

The menus are also nature-inspired, this inspiration ties in with my experiences out of the kitchen, enjoying nature and Cornish countryside. After foraging the same spots for a few years now we have discovered the growth getting stronger each season, meaning that our foraging method is really beneficial to the landscape. I like to use the seasons between seasons to pair what is coming with what is going.

We have met some amazing producers over the last six years. They have evolved with us, improving their methods, increasing their yields and experimenting - the same process as ourselves in the kitchen. My one fisherman who only line catches, lands once a week, ikejimes his fish on board and then texts me from the boat to tell me what he has. He then loads the fish in a cooler outside his house for me to pick up post-surf on the way back to the restaurant.

Patrick (of Patrick’s Patch), my one farmer, has gone from growing in the field next to his house to expanding onto larger fields that have been under pasture for centuries. Patrick loves obscure herbs and leaves, he even has a cardamom experiment going on. Where else can you find fresh, local lemons in winter? Only from Patrick’s polytunnel!

The wheat grown at Cornish Golden Grains by William is one of my favourites, I love swinging by the farm and going full wheat and bread nerd in the field. William is farming in a regenerative style and Farming for flavour using forgotten grains with mega-high nutrient value.

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