Culture, the new Falmouth restaurant from Chef Hylton Espey, opening in June

13 May 2022

Culture – the new restaurant from chef Hylton Espey – will open in Falmouth, Cornwall this June.

Located on Custom House Quay, Culture Restaurant will celebrate local produce and hyper-seasonal cooking with a menu of nature inspired cuisine.

Culture is Hylton’s first independent restaurant and sees him working with wife, Petronella Espey to realise their long-held dream. Falmouth locals will know Hylton as the Head Chef at Rastella, the restaurant at the Merchants Manor hotel. During his six years at Rastella Hylton was awarded 3 AA Rosettes and gained a reputation for inventive cooking that championed Cornish produce.

Hylton has always been passionate about the locality of his ingredients and the connection of food to nature. Before making the move to Cornwall from his native South Africa Hylton was Executive Chef at the renowned sustainability focused Cavalli Estate in Helderberg. Previously he trained under some of South Africa’s best-known chefs and worked at the country’s top restaurants including the award-winning Ginja in Cape Town.

Ethically conscious local suppliers and their produce sit at the heart of Culture. From pasture raised Footes Farm chickens and sustainably farmed Cape & Cove pork; to regeneratively farmed Trenow Fields vegetables and Cornish Golden Grain’s sustainable local crops. Hylton will collect fish himself from his favourite fisherman whose catch is line-caught off the coast of either Falmouth or Hayle depending on the season.

“By building and maintaining fantastic relationships with my suppliers, I aim to source the freshest produce available. I work directly with farmers to produce sustainable and where possible organically grown food for my kitchen. I’m constantly experimenting with new flavours and techniques trying to utilise indigenous plants, so that I can include them in my repertoire.

My food style is about unique flavour combinations, with a few surprises on the plate. I want my plates to resemble and represent the ingredients they’re comprised of in a fresh, natural and modern way.” says Hylton

‘The Journey Menu’ is a story told over multiple courses, driven by produce and inspired by the team’s experiences, from a trip to the farm or a surf on the Lizard. Dishes will be guided by seasonality and daily availability: if there is no good fish from the fisherman that day then there will be no fish on the menu. Through sharing this ethos with guests Hylton will champion local food heroes, sustainable farming and amazing flavour.

Dishes on the daily menu might include ‘Story of Lamb’; inspired by a coastal walk from Porthleven to Trewithick Farm, the dish was born from Hylton’s experience of the lambs grazing on the fields looking out over the Atlantic, their hedgerow herb diet and proximity to the sea. In this ‘surf & turf’ dish Hylton brings together the slow roasted Trewithick Farm lamb, hedgerow herbs and sea vegetables in Cornish butter, and Cornish Crab dressed in his signature B.O.F.G.A (a burnt onion and fermented garlic aioli).

On set evenings Culture will offer a vegan and gluten-free menu exclusively to allow the small kitchen to welcome meat, gluten and dairy-free guests.

An optional wine pairing chosen by Hylton and Petronella will accompany the daily menu. In the dining room a glass wine cellar will show the pair are as passionate about wine as they are food. The list will feature new and old-world wines including wines from the South West of England. Hylton spent time at university studying viticulture and working with two South African vineyards - Remhoogte Wine Estate and Alheit Vineyards - both of which feature on the Culture wine list.

At Culture the focus on sustainability extends from the suppliers to the cooking itself. Hylton aims to cook sustainably with minimal waste and maximum flavour. He will minimise the use of single use plastic by choosing sustainable options and manipulating food in a natural way. Hylton’s philosophy is to reuse where possible rather than recycle and he asks suppliers to deliver in reusable boxes without plastic.

The pared back restaurant interiors will feature raw wood and open masonry with blackened steel countertops giving an industrial edge to the design. Art from local artist Jon White will adorn the walls. The open kitchen will overlook the 30-cover dining room and guests can watch as Hylton creates an impressive seven-plus-courses from the modest sized kitchen. From outside seats guests will enjoy views of Falmouth Bay.

Culture will open in mid-June.


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