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Tom Hunter is passionate about food, passionate about Cornwall and passionate about the close relationship of the two in the Scarlet Restaurant’s kitchen.
His is a no-nonsense approach. Work with the freshest, most interesting local produce you can get your hands on, and ensure those ingredients are swiftly and sensitively handled - from field to kitchen to plate.
“The great thing about the Scarlet and being in Cornwall is that the food is always going to be as fresh and local as it food can be, and that’s something I want to shout about.
“I would really struggle to pinpoint anywhere where ingredients move from field to plate so fast and that’s really exciting.
“Our hope is that our guests can really taste that on their plates.
“I’ve always loved the Scarlet’s attitude to food, it’s obviously a very high level operation run by people who are very passionate about food.”
Tom has strong links to Cornwall, spending five years at the Well House Hotel, St Keyne, where he worked his way up from Chef de Partie (Pastry) to Head Chef. He won three rosettes from the AA in 2008 and maintained these until he left in July 2010.
He then did a stint at Warpool Court Hotel, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, but knew his heart belonged to Cornwall and so moved back to join us in March of this year.
He said: “I watched the development of the Scarlet with interest and was very nearly part of the opening team. When I left Cornwall, I knew I would be back soon and whilst I considered and was considered for some other posts in Cornwall it’s always really been about the Scarlet!
“I am so proud to be the new Head Chef. Cornwall is very special to me personally, and also offers many passionate and unique producers that I am really excited to be working with again.
“I have an exceptionally talented team in place and am looking forward to producing some amazing food that reflects the already outstanding reputation of the Scarlet.”
Q & A with Tom Hunter
Which dish on your menu do you most enjoy preparing and why?
Pork belly and rhubarb is a favourite. Slow cooked. It's a great balance and that makes it really satisfying to prepare as well as to eat.
Describe your menu in four words.
Cornish. Fresh. Sensitive and interesting.
Which chef do you most admire?
Sat Bains of Restaurant Sat Bains.
What is your favourite ingredient and why?
Shell fish - scallops or lobster - for being so fresh, local and tasty.
What was your most memorable meal?
Gidleigh Park in Devon. Stinging nettle risotto with snails and frogs legs to start. Cornish veal with watercress and a Raspberry soufflé. Brilliant.
Marmite: love it or hate it & why?
I actually just think it's ok. Guess I'm the exception that proves the rule.
Name your favourite cheese?
How do you relax?
Spending time with my family...I'm not sure how relaxing that is now I've got a child!
What do you choose to drink?
Describe a favourite food combination.
Pork and apple.
Name a favourite Cornish producer or supplier.
The Modern Salad Grower because he's so passionate about what he does.
What do you like most about your restaurant?
I like the informaliy of it...relaxed while still having a nice and bustley feel to it. It's not stiff like some fine dining restaurants can be.
If you could hear your favorite food, what song/instrument would it be?
My favourite food is confit duckleg, and I guess it would be a sax.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I never get angry...that's pretty rare I suppose, especially in this profession.
Where in the world have you been that you thought was paradise?
I've been to lots of places all round the world and I'd have to say Fife...that might be a strange sort of paradise for some people, but it is for me.
What's the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Caviar with white chocolate. Brilliant.