Hell Bay Hotel

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Guest blog: AJ Turner

Guest blog: AJ Turner

Ahead of our Foodie Break featuring Truro School of Cookery this April, guest chef AJ Turner reflects on the islands’ local producers, Bryher’s captivating landscape, and why the Crab Shack makes the perfect cookery venue.

I first visited Bryher when we came across to do a recce ahead of last autumn’s classes – this would be our first time working with Hell Bay, and I was blown away by the blue skies and clear seas on the islands. Hell Bay itself was just beautiful – from the location to the décor, it has its own style and is a really special space.

I love the contrast between the hotel itself and the Crab Shack. As we walked down the road to what looked like an old tractor shed, I was unsure what to expect, but as we stepped inside I was charmed. When we returned to run the cookery workshops last September, we found it to be the perfect space – it’s informal, authentic and intimate, just like our workshops. Plus when you’re getting stuck into a messy lobster linguine, you feel much more at home in this rustic space where it doesn’t matter if you spill bits of shell on the floor or get your hands dirty!

Our workshops are all about interaction – the conversation is just as central to the experience as the cookery. Fellow chef Manuel and I love fielding questions, which can be about anything food related – we’ll do our best to answer! We find it’s a really nice way to teach and eat. Nowadays people are so much more knowledgeable about food – you don’t have to be a culinary enthusiast to get something out of our sessions, they’re very accessible and the only prerequisite is a love of good food and good wine!

We were enamoured by the variety and quality of local produce grown in such a small place. While setting up for our autumn workshops we were presented with these amazing lobsters and crabs by the Island Fish team, as well as incredible fudge and fresh herbs from Veronica Farm, and so much more. The community feel of this network of producers is so apparent here, and the Hell Bay kitchen is so resourceful in how it utilises local fare.

You’ll enjoy our workshops if you’re interested in the background of where your food has come from. It’s interactive, we eat, we talk, you can ask questions – it’s all about togetherness, a real celebration of great wine and fine food from the islands. It’s such a unique experience.

My favourite moment from our last trip has to be post-setup on the Friday night, Manuel and I went for a walk around the Bryher coastline – it was a beautiful evening and the scenery was breath-taking. The sun was setting – the views across the Great Pool (overlooked by the hotel itself) were magical. I’m quite into photography so these sights were a dream! Uninterrupted views of the Atlantic and incredible colours. Everything, down to the island-hopping on all the little boats to the food we came across, was just unforgettable.

AJ will lead a weekend of cookery workshops across Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th April – join him for an intimate demonstration and dining experience featuring whole Bryher lobster linguine, Veronica Farm fudge tiramisu and more.

The Hell Bay Foodie Break: find out more.

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