Cornwall's at-home food scene just got a lot more exciting, as it welcomes back Ana Marie, a half Cornish, half Filipina chef and owner of Ana's Kusina. Cornish Secrets' editor Rebecca Moore witnesses the chef in action and finds out how her two heritages collide in her latest cooking venture...
When you think about food in Cornwall, Cornish pasties, fish and chips and lashings of clotted cream spring to mind. And we’re proud of our staple delicacies. But what if I told you Cornish ingredients doesn’t have to mean meat and two veg…
Ana Marie was born in Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippines, to a Filipina mother and a Cornish father. Moving to Cornwall aged 10 years old, Ana has always been passionate about her heritage, cooking and is a self-confessed ‘foodie’. Fast forward quarter of a century, and Ana has found herself back in the Duchy after spending over two decades on the Bristol food scene.
“When I first started out, I was doing supper clubs, pop-ups and market stalls in and around the Bristol and Bath area,” explains Ana. Proving to be a hit with the locals, and people visiting the area, Ana began cooking at corporate events, including Don Papa Rum single-island rum from the Philippines, cheffing at weddings for catering companies such as The French Kitchen and The Table Bruton, alongside festivals and kitchen takeovers.
Before uprooting, Ana embarked on a private chef role for a high-net-worth family in a village in Somerset, as maternity cover. “Working as a private chef made me realise it’s actually a great way to cook as a profession. Not only is it more personal, you get to interact with the clients and tailor make the menu to their needs,” says Ana.
Cementing her future endeavours, she took the plunge in 2021, and moved back to Cornwall. This time, calling a village between Wadebridge and Padstow home.
Launching Ana’s Kusina – which translates to kitchen in Filipino – she now offers culinary delights in the shape of kitchen takeovers, home cookery school, luxury ready meals, and, what excites us the most… a private chef. To complete your Cornish getaway, hiring a private chef gives you the best of both worlds, enjoying restaurant-quality food, in the comfort of your home. And Ana will even do the dishes.
But what can you expect on the menu? I was lucky enough to be hosted by Ana (it’s a tough job, hey). To kick things off, Ana presented pork and prawn sio mai, a delicious traditional steamed dumpling. To follow was a Filipino masterpiece… serving up a kamayan platter, which I now know is a communal-style Filipino feast. I grazed on an array of lechon baboy a rotisserie rolled crispy belly pork; slow cooked short rib rubbed in spices and marinated in banana ketchup; Filipino chicken spring rolls with a spiced vinegar dip alongside succulent king prawns and squid, tasty chicken wings, steamed rice, griddled pak choi and a fresh pickled salad.
For those with a sweet tooth, fear not it isn’t strictly savoury. For dessert I was spoilt with a Filipino favourite… a purple yam ice cream made, but Ana’s version uses Cornish clotted cream, and is served with latik, a Filipino toasted coconut milk crumb. A true taste sensation, creative and a true example of how Ana blends the two cuisines together. “I like to substitute what would be used normally for a recipe and change it by using Cornish produce,” Ana continues: “The Filipino seaweed salad for example, I use Cornish seaweed, or for seafood you’ll find Cornish crab, hake and so on.”
But what’s Ana’s favourite Cornish produce to work with? “It has to be seafood, you can’t beat fresh Cornish seafood, but I also adore using clotted cream.” Like Ana, I struggled to find just one favourite when she asked me for my feedback. I wasn’t surprised to learn a popular dish of hers is her lechon. “Lechon is a Filipino crispy belly pork rolled with lemongrass, garlic and chilli. Seems to be a firm favourite with my diners.” And after tasting, I concur.
Inviting Ana into your Cornish kitchen, whether you’re visiting on holiday or lucky enough to call Cornwall home is a culinary experience like no other. Mainly covering North Cornwall, Ana’s Kusina is what the Cornish food scene has been missing, and the Duchy is blessed to have such a talented chef back in the fold.
To find out more about Ana Kusina’s private chef services, Cornish kitchen takeovers, home cookery schools and more, check out her website and social media channels.