The Idle Rocks in St Mawes, Cornwall, has been named the winner of the 2018 Seafood Restaurant of the Year by The Caterer; in association with Seafish, the public body supporting the £10bn UK seafood industry.
The restaurant was awarded the title for its exemplary customer service and menu, which demonstrates a variety of locally-sourced fish species, after being tested during an anonymous audit by Seafish. It was also praised by the judges for its sourcing and sustainability practices, and for the team’s dedication to training around provenance.
The Idle Rocks, a luxury hotel and restaurant in the heart of St Mawes, Cornwall, is owned by David and Karen Richards and has been a member of Relais & Chateaux since 2016. Guy Owen joined the restaurant as Head Chef of the 65-seat restaurant in 2015. The team works very closely with their local seafood suppliers, such as Fish for Thought and The Wild Oyster Company fishing Cornish Native Oysters on the Fal River, a fishery protected by strict bylaws, only allowing the gathering of oysters by fair wind and tide, between October and March. The majority of the fish on the menus is specimen rod or line caught, by many day-boat fishermen whom are known and trusted. By taking advantage of the local waters, Guy showcases not only the seafood available close by, but also sea vegetables abundant on the coastline such as seaweed, samphire and sea pea.
Head Chef Guy Owen moved to South East Cornwall at the age of eight and, throughout his school years, began helping in the kitchens of local restaurants after lessons and at weekends. He developed his culinary expertise at some of the London’s leading restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, L’Etranger and La Trompette. After returning to the West Country in 2009, Guy worked at leading hotels Gidleigh Park, under Michael Caines, and the Driftwood hotel, where he became sous chef under Chris Eden.
Owen comments: “We are absolutely over the moon to be awarded the Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2018. This is, without a doubt, all thanks to the fantastic team here at The Idle Rocks. The kitchen and restaurant team work so hard to understand our food and ensure that we are responsible and sustainable, in order to protect the biodiversity of our oceans.”
Current menus at The Idle Rocks include St Mawes oyster, Ponzu and apple; Percuil scallop, smoked bacon chowder and Singapore crab. The restaurant introduces new and alternative species of fish and shellfish to the menu as and when they are in season or available from local suppliers and aims to utilise under used species of fish and seafood as often as possible including gurnard, whiting and silver mullet – but only ever fish from Cornish waters.
An independent, mystery audit produced by Seafish as part of the judging process also scored the restaurant highly with the mystery guest impressed by the invitation on booking to “come in early for a drink,” and comments in the report including “brilliant waiters who were knowledgeable, attentive and friendly.”
Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers editor of The Caterer who presented the trophy to Owen with Seafish Southwest project manager Gus Caslake, commented: “Head chef Guy Owen’s ethos is to focus on the main ingredient on the plate and use his classically gained skills with imaginative influences from other places in the world he has worked. His main influence, however, is his team. The kitchen brigade at The Idle Rocks is heavily involved in creating seasonal and modern dishes on the menu.”
Watch the moment Head Chef Guy Owen is presented with the award