While cooking on the road with his ‘loyal pirate crew’ - Ben Quinn discovered a need in his local Cornish community of St Agnes for some year-round community led food stops. We recently spoke with the Canteen Cornwall/ Woodfired Canteen team, to find out more about their journey, what they have coming up and why they choose to use Falcon at their tables.
COOKING ON FIRES WITH FALCON
Can you tell us about Canteen Cornwall and how it came to be?
After spending time as a “proper chef” in restaurants in the south west - where you say things like Yes chef!! and Cheque on!, you spend your time sitting on empty oil containers smoking - and definitely drink more than you should. Ben Quinn thought he could probably do this cheffing thing a bit differently. Making the world of hospitality more hospitable.
Initially using surplus food from his events business, bulked out with seasonal local produce and selling it to the community. From a warehouse on a cliff side called Wheal Kitty. Surrounded by like minded purpose driven business, it hit the ground running and before long was running the first of the Canteen Cornwall spots. Focussed on feeding and employing locals year round.
You have an events side to the business too, involving long tables in unusual locations, can you tell us more?
The events company's Woodfired Canteen and Woodfired Weddings will always be at the heart of what we do. Our passions lie in cooking on fires and feeding people in unusual locations. This has taken Ben and the team all over the world championing the mission of making lifetime memories. Working with legends like Honey and Co and good friends, Outstanding In The Field. With our yearly headline spot at Wilderness Festival being the pinnacle of our events calendar.
You use a lot of Falcon enamelware at the restaurant and at events. What’s your favourite product and what do you use it for?
Falcon enamelware are the dream products when going on the road. Building kitchens, and feeding 100s of people in the middle of nowhere, logistically isn’t always easy. But having products that can be stacked in the back of the van and washed in saucepans on gas rings makes it all a bit easier. Most of the time we don’t have power or running water at our sites. So durability is key. Our feasting model runs by feeding our guests to the centre of the table, family style service - so the large serving dish and serving trays being favourites of ours.
What does 2023 hold for you?
Along with our new premises at the ecological park in Porthtowan. We are back on the road with the team at festivals and weddings. But alongside all those amazing things, we continue to try to maintain the balance beam of hospitality tipping in the right direction. A mission of driving hospitality to be a respectful, safe and fairly paid space. We have had enough of burn out culture.
Good people Good food and all that!
What do you love about Cornwall at this time of year?
Empty car parks and beaches!
Don’t get us wrong, we need people to holiday here. The majority of businesses here survive off tourism!! But being able to walk on the beach and prop ourselves up in a cosy pub when the rain is coming in sideways is pretty special!
Are there any other local companies you'd like to shoutabout? Where do you usually eat, drink, and source ingredients in your local area?
I could so easily list all the very trendy places to eat and drink - but I would like to do my bit in shining the light on places that were here before us and will more than likely be here well after we aren’t the cool place to eat anymore.
Firstly, a big name on the A30 is Smokey Joes, a truckers stop with easily the best fry up in Cornwall. That I think has been open since the war… The staff here are LEGIT.
Linden Hey Tea Room - Owners have opened their kitchen and conservatory to the public and fulfilled their dream of running a tea room. Serving up all the classics including a Cornish afternoon tea ( of course jam first )
And Craig the milkman - the living Cornish legend. Supplying us with cauliflowers as big as his hands for over ten years.