Kiwi Fiona Were is one of the UK’s top female chefs. She’s conquered Cornwall bit by bit, having worked at The Greenbank in Falmouth and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall before joining Mullion Cove Hotel as head chef. Food got the lowdown
Salty or sweet?
Salty, savoury flavours. I like spicy foods with chilli and I like a bit of cheese too. Early food memory? I remember my grandma preparing paua (abalone). You have to bash them with a hammer because they’re tough and need to be tenderised. It’s a really hands on approach to food.
Like to eat out?
I don’t eat out much because I’m often working in the evenings, but recently I had a great meal at Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion.
Feeling inspired by?
Ottolenghi. I love his big, bold flavours and textures. It’s a really great approach to food and a joy to eat. I like how he fuses spices and flavours together.
Wish you’d known ten years ago?
I wish I’d known how restrictive it is being a female chef unless you’ve got the top job or are self-employed. It made me aim for the top.
Most challenging time in your career?
Coming over to the UK. I’d been a head chef in New Zealand, but I pretty much had to start over again and prove my worth. I lived in Plymouth, which wasn’t very foodie back then.
The Old Fire House in Exeter. I used to live in the city and always enjoyed going there, it has a fantastic range of beers and ciders, a great vibe and is always busy.
Favourite way to cook?
Depends on the time of year, as I’m a bit of a mood cooker! At this time of year, I enjoy slow cooking to bring out flavours, and Asian food.
Like to have supper with?
My dad, who passed away a few years ago. I’d make his signature spaghetti bolognese, which he always cooked when mum was away, to show him I’d mastered it.
Favourite weekend breakfast?
A bacon and egg sandwich made with eggs from our own hens. We’ve got about 12 hens at the moment.
On the up?
There’s a trend towards Scandinavian style cooking, which is really in touch with natural ingredients and fresh flavours.
Mullion Cove Hotel, Mullion Cove, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, TR12 7EP