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Menuwatch: Kota

18 January 2019 by
Menuwatch: Kota

With three appearances on BBC's Great British Menu, New Zealand-born Jude Kereama is making a name for himself on the UK coastline

Fortunately, one of the main attractions doesn't have to travel too far to attend - Jude Kereama, three-time BBC TV Great British Menu South-West competitor, is chef-proprietor of the town's most-acclaimed restaurant, Kota, and its sister 'bar and kitchen', Kota Kai.

Kota, meaning shellfish in Maori, was created by Kereama (who is half Maori, half Chinese Malay) and his wife Jane in 2006. The 300-year-old granary building, with its relaxed and informal interiors, provides a contrast to the contemporary, Asian-inspired cuisine.

A New Zealander by birth, Kereama slowly climbed the kitchen ladder in Christchurch and Palmerston North before landing an opportunity to work in Auckland as sous chef to restaurateur, celebrity chef and food writer Simon Gault. "I learned a lot from him," explains Kereama. "He was a very ambitious man who travelled the world extensively for inspiration. He taught me that if I was to reach my potential, I had to go overseas."

Jude Kereama
Jude Kereama

en years in London working at a host of restaurants, including Antony Worrall Thompson's 190 Queen's Gate (Kereama was executive chef, while Jane was general manager of Worrall Thompson's De Cecco in Fulham) were peppered with visits to Cornwall, where Jane's mum lived. After both hankering to be by the coast, they bit the bullet and relocated to Porthleven.

Kereama's uniquely creative cooking has received multiple awards, including three AA rosettes, a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide, Cornwall Life Restaurant of the Year 2018, the 2019 Trencherman's Guide "best chef" award and recognition from The Good Food Guide and Harden's, which describes his food as "accomplished and memorably inventive".

Falmouth Bay scallops, cauliflower, five-spiced pork, soy apple ginger
Falmouth Bay scallops, cauliflower, five-spiced pork, soy apple ginger

e 32-seat, dinner-only restaurant with rooms serves an Á la carte, a three-course set menu (£28) and a seven-course tasting menu (£55), Tuesdays to Saturdays. Having made the pilgrimage to Britain's most southerly port, for many the tasting menu is the only way to go.

Kereama's signature dish, the Rockpool, is always on the menu. "It was a dish I created for Great British Menu when the theme was the celebration of 100 years of the Women's Institute. It was designed around me spending time at the rock pools around Porthleven with my son and the foraging we do, and was inspired by the WI's family values and use of 'free food'." The "winter" incarnation features hake fillet, king prawn raviolo, Cornish mussels, Atlantic prawns, vegetable dashi broth and seaweed (£24.50).

Unsurprisingly, fish and seafood dominate the menus, which include oysters (served as tempura with wasabi tartare or natural with cucumber rice wine granita); mackerel ceviche, jalapeÁ±o, yuzu and coriander; and salmon tartare Japanese-style with wasabi crème fraÁ®che, marinated keta, sesame tuile and avocado.

Cornish duck, carrot, turnip, miso
Cornish duck, carrot, turnip, miso
"I love working with all ingredients, but I must particularly mention seaweeds and Japanese ingredients such as soy, vinegars, miso, ponzu and sake, which are so refined yet add some big umami flavours. And because of my Chinese/Malay background, flavours such as ginger, black bean, lemongrass, chilli, char siu and pickled plum all come into my cooking too." Meat-lovers visiting Kota won't be disappointed either - Cornish venison, Crown Prince pumpkin, fig, Brussel leaves and cocoa nib (from the tasting menu) and Cornish beef feather blade, oxtail croustillant, textures of onions, potato terrine, purple sprouting broccoli and shimeji mushrooms (£24.50) are just a couple of dishes to grace recent menus.
The Rockpool
The Rockpool
n October 2011, after requests from customers and friends for a relaxed family venue in town, the Kereamas opened Kota Kai Bar & Kitchen, just a stone's throw from Kota."What was supposed to be a two-year visa trip has so far lasted 21 years," laughs Kereama proudly, "and I'm now the owner, with my wife Jane, of two restaurants in Porthleven."
An Apple a Day
An Apple a Day

From the menuStarters •Mackerel fingers, celeriac rémoulade, pickled beets, rosemary aÁ¯oli, watercress £8.50 •Crab raviolo, Cornish shellfish, sea greens, lemongrass, lime leaf, turmeric root £10.95Mains •Crispy rosemary polenta cake, sautéed mushrooms, mushroom ketchup, watercress, cumin-spiced crème fraÁ®che £14.95 •Spiced monkfish, cauliflower purée, roast cauliflower, Romanesco, lentil dahl £22.95 •Roast five-spiced Cornish duck breast, teriyaki orange glaze, crispy duck croquette, mashed potato, winter greens £23.95Desserts •Rhubarb and custard millefeuille, lemon cream, ginger beer sorbet £8.50 •Baked Alaska: passion fruit, mango, pineapple crisp, mint £8.50Harbour Head, Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall TR13 9JAwww.kotarestaurant.co.uk

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