Emily Scott, award-winning chef and once owner of The Harbour restaurant in Port Isaac (now Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen) has made her name as a chef who has a love of simple, seasonal and quality food. The Harbour Kitchen Supper Club is part of her private catering company The Harbour Kitchen, which she describes as being all about: “good food and bringing people together round a shared table.”
Hay Studio is more than just a blank canvas for artists, photographers, film-makers; it is an event space inspired and built by Sue and Alastair Hay whose own creative vision pushes boundaries: “If you think something’s going to work then don’t do it,” Alastair tells me, “that’s if you want to do something really different that no-one’s done before.”
The couple also run it as a local arts cinema, as a venue for charity events, and Alastair is particularly keen on using it as a retreat for city creatives who can tap into surfing and Cornish energy to generate ideas as a collective. “It’s amazing what can happen when you put a bunch of people in here together,” he explains.
Energy is something that Emily herself has in buckets. Mother of two children, her passion for centring food and table at the heart of family life drives her cooking. Stepping into Hay Studio that evening – there was nothing but table – a long, Italian banquet-style table stretched end to end for 22 diners, opening out onto green fields for canapés and fizz.
Back at the table, we started with large wooden sharing plates packed with Trealy Farm charcuterie and bulging caperberries alongside hot buttery thyme and lemon scallops followed by unusually delicate fig, mint and lemon bruschetta. The tone was set for simplicity, summer, sharing and indulgence.
The main event was a whole sea bream with herb dressing, Cornish new potatoes, mint, borage flowers, fennel and peas asparagus. The fish was generous, soft, succulent and presentation and hosting made it more and more like dining at a good friend’s house (a friend with very fine taste in food).
It’s not often that I can review a plate of fish, vegetables and potatoes, without a sauce to distract, a flourish of foam or a Masterchef smear. It’s a brave chef too that serves food without fuss and lets a delicate fat fish do the talking, the fennel to remind you quietly of summers in the south of France and allow the potatoes to speak out about how good Cornish seasonal produce can be.
By now, conversation was floating up to the rafters of the studio and I had established shared family contacts with the guest opposite, debated education and creativity with Alastair on my right and been coerced into attending the Boscastle food festival on my left.
In the middle of it all came cheese (controversially before dessert): thin shards of Cornish Gouda with crackers and fig chutney, followed by a gorgeous flourless orange, almond pudding with crème anglaise. (I lie a little – we had to leave early and our pudding was wrapped up and eaten for breakfast in bed the next morning).
Mint tea or coffee with petits fours finished a meal that was, in true Emily style, as much about place, memory and conversation, as it was about the food.
The Harbour Kitchen Supper Club costs £40 per person. Drinks are available either at the venue or you can bring your own which makes for a very reasonably priced evening. Go to harbourkitchen.com/journal for news of the next one or contact Emma: firstname.lastname@example.org.