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What’s cooking? Paul Ainsworth, No6, Padstow

In this Muddy regular, our favourite chefs spill all about their work, lives, and top tips. Dishing it this week: Paul Ainsworth.

Paul Ainsworth is the chef and restaurateur behind Paul Ainsworth at No6, Caffè Rojano, Padstow Townhouse, Mahé Chef’s Table and Development Kitchen, and The Mariners pub – all located on the North Cornwall coast.

Your first job in a kitchen? 

My parents ran a guesthouse in Southampton so my first experience of hospitality was there. It wasn’t actually the kitchen that I helped out in, I was tasked with the garden and other chores, so my first job cooking was actually at The Star Hotel in Southampton. I was on work experience and helping out in anyway I could, I took a liking to the buzz of the kitchen and started making the cheese toasties, one of their bar snacks. 

What is your career highlight? 

It is hard to pick just one but obviously winning a Michelin star in 2013 was a real highlight. Also I must mention cooking for Sir David Jason. My dad and I were huge fans of Only Fools and Horses and I was totally starstruck when he came to No6.

Most memorable moment at work? 

I think it’s the way I found out about winning the star which made is so memorable. The news was leaked a week early and there was all this gossip within the industry and people saying I’ve won a star. The phone lines blew up with booking requests and questions from journalists. I called up Michelin and they confirmed it, it was fantastic! Tom and Beth Kerridge so kindly came down to Padstow and took me out for dinner at Rick Stein’s. Everyone was so supportive, it was such a special moment for Emma and I.  

You’re tired, starving and impatient: what do you cook for dinner? 

Cheese on toast with Davidstow cheddar and plenty of Worcestershire sauce! 

Favourite chef? 

Tom Kerridge (who Muddy Ed-in-chief, Hero, interviewed back in 2019!)

Favourite cookbook? 

I have so many cookbooks and they all mean different things to me. White Heat by Marco Pierre White was particularly salient when I was training as well as Nico by Nico Ladenis. 

Favourite kitchen gadget? 

It’s not really a gadget but I’d have to say a good quality wooden chopping board.  

Favourite local hotspots? 

Cornwall is full of amazing places. For a pint, The Golden Lion is a proper Padstownian pub and the owners are lovely. They do a great roast as well.

the view of watergate bay from the cliffs

I’m also a massive fan of The Watergate Bay Hotel (above) and The Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth (beach below). The Watergate is very family-friendly, while Scarlet is adults only. Both are lovely spots for a beach walk – bonus, dogs are allowed on the beach.

I’d also highly recommend checking out Nancarrow Farm.

Favourite local markets and suppliers? 

For oysters you can’t beat Porthilly (below). They’re right across The Camel Estuary from us so as fresh as you can get!

For other suppliers I recommend The St Kew Farm Shop and Philip Warren Butchers in Launceston who specialise in traditional native breeds. On a weekend there is nothing better than sharing one of their grass-fed rib of beefs with the family.

Favourite ingredient and why?  

Cornish sea salt flakes. I use them everyday and I’m so proud to be doing so.

The dish you’re most proud of creating? 

It’s hard to choose one but I love our unconventional cheese courses we serve at No6. At the moment guests are loving our apple pie with Stichelton, an incredible English blue from Nottinghamshire. 

How can we be more sustainable in the kitchen?

For me it comes down to (reducing) food waste. It’s something we try so hard to minimise across the restaurants. For example, we make our own butter and therefore have the whey on our hands. This year we used it in Daring, a gin we made with Salcombe Gin, along with foraged Cornish botanicals. We also use the buttermilk, another by-product for making butter, for an ice cream. For you at home, one little tip is to keep all your veg peelings and trimmings and then once a week, turn these into a beautiful veggie stock and freeze for later.  

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