Here is a little bit about me...Fiona Were. I am originally from New Zealand but have been living and working in the Westcountry, from Bristol to Cornwall for quite a few years now. I am a foodie so not only do I enjoy cooking, but I love eating good food too. It is so exciting fusing styles, techniques and flavours together, then tasting them. Sourcing local, seasonal and ethically produced ingredients is key to my cooking ethos. New Zealand is multi cultural which results in the cuisine being pretty eclectic. It comes naturally to me to experiment and incorporate diverse flavours and methods into dishes. Travelling, extensive, ongoing reading and researching are influential in shaping my style. I would like to think that I have a broad knowledge of food, but one can never know everything and that certainly keeps life interesting. If I hear of something unfamiliar, I will go to great lengths to discover the unknown, until I am correctly informed.
So to credentials; I have been cooking for most of my life and started learning by baking with my mother when I was very young. One of my favourite things was to eat uncooked biscuit or cake mix- I know I am not alone with that one! After a few years of baking, bread making and cooking family meals, I was hooked.
I trained in New Zealand and had a few jobs while I was at college as a kitchen porter but was always keen to help the chefs when given the opportunity. My first proper cooking job and really the kick start of my catering career, began at the fine dining Canterbury Tales Restaurant at the 5 star Park Royal Hotel in Christchurch New Zealand (which has since been destroyed in the earthquakes of 2011). At 23, I had my first head chef role, looking after a brigade of 12 in a 60 bedroom hotel with a bustling bistro and wood fired pizza oven in Christchurch NZ. Then I tripped the light fandango in Auckland before heading for the UK. This all seems like quite a long time ago. Through my culinary journey in the UK, I have held Executive and Head Chef positions at a number of the Cornwall's most prestigious hotels, including the Training and Development Chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, in its inaugural year. I have managed to pick up a few accolades on the way including being named as one of the top 10 female chefs in the UK, in the Independant on Sunday and some AA rosettes too.
Several publications have been kind enough to put me in print including Yes Chef, Her (NZ), Food Magazine, Flavour, Cornwall Today, Inside Cornwall magazines, the West Briton and not forgetting Four Lanes' Starling News. I have also dabbled in food writing, with feature articles for the Western Morning News and Home Farmer Magazine. I regularly demonstrate at food festivals in Cornwall including the Great Cornwall Food Festival, Falmouth Oyster, Boscastle and Newlyn Fish Festivals. I will admit to the odd appearances on TV also, including cooking native oysters with Matt Baker on Countryfile.
So that's work. I regularly swim, which helps me decompress, but in my spare time I enjoy the tranquil restorative nature of home and the garden. Being buffetted about on a blustery coastal walk foraging, exploring nature and historical ruins is a real treat. We also brave the elements to tend to our chickens, grow our own fruit and vegetables, make cider, wines, preserving and the list goes on....it's not bad living in Cornwall; not bad at all.