What’s your first memory of being interested in food?
Working as a kitchen porter at a hotel and watching the chefs put things together to make something lovely and then seeing how much joy it gave people.
How have your parents influenced you to become the chef that you are today?
I owe so much to my parents because subconsciously I was growing up in an environment that would always stand me in good stead to become the chef I am today. From watching them cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for their customers in the guest house, to making me work and understand the value of money at a very early age, to sitting down to a home-cooked meal every day.
What has been your most memorable moment in your culinary career to date?
Accolades such as the Michelin star and winning Great British Menu are pretty memorable, but I would have to say taking a small B&B town house and turning it into a restaurant and being busy lunch and dinner eight years on is probably my most memorable.
Which flavours or memories from your childhood are translated into your cooking?
Straight away I think of rhubarb. I love it when it comes into season. It reminds me of growing up in the guest house where my dad would grow it next to my rabbit hutch and turn it into the best crumbles. Simple things, like the way I bake our sourdough quite intensely to form a really crisp crust, just like the rolls mum and dad used to buy from our local bakery. We’d eat them with equal amounts of butter to roll ratio and a slice of thick ham!
What kind of experience do you hope to give people dining at your Michelin-starred Cornwall-based restaurant, Paul Ainsworth at Number 6?
Our restaurant is essentially a two-storey town house and that’s exactly the experience I want people to have. To feel my personality, be welcomed by my family and soak up everything Cornish.
What ingredient couldn’t you live without?
I know it’s cliché, but this is the truth – salt.
Do you have an embarrassing post-shift dish you love eating?
It’s more naughty than embarrassing, but I have been known to ask my wife Emma for her smoked Applewood cheese, baked bean and ham toasties. Instead of using butter, she uses Philadelphia.
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?
There are so many more incredible places that I want to visit in my lifetime. Last year, Emma and I went to Stockholm with Tom and Beth Kerridge who took us to Frantzén/Lindeberg. The creativity and flavour was just world-class, but it still felt true to its roots. I would go back in a heartbeat.