Chef Mike Potts is a man on a mission. The Executive Chef of Karma’s Isles of Scilly resort, Karma St Martin’s, has just secured the resort’s signature restaurant, The Cloudesley Shovell, a prestigious two-rosettes, awarded by the UK’s Automotive Association which recognises excellence where – as the AA puts it – the top and the bottom line is food. To be awarded two-rosettes, a restaurant is recognised as the best in their local area, and which aims for (and achieves) higher standards, better consistency, greater precision in cooking, and evident attention to the selection of quality ingredients.
Not satisfied with a mere two-Rosettes, Potts has an eye on next year’s AA judging round, when he hopes to add a third to the restaurant’s trophy shelf. Indeed, it’s not Potts’s first time as a multiple Rosette winner; he also collected three-Rosettes back in 2004 as chef for the Queen Hotel in Chester.
According to Potts, it’s all about thinking outside the circle, sourcing fresh produce, and imagination. “We always put a twist on every dish we do, in flavour, in texture, and presentation. All the plating is done by myself and Nicole (the Cloudesley Shovell’s Sous chef), you eat with your eyes first after all.”
The restaurant’s seasonal menu plays with local produce in fun and often surprising ways. Modern French in style, the emphasis is on freshness. “If wild leeks aren’t in season and I want something interesting, a twist, I may look at an ingredient like stinging nettle”, says Potts, “whether it’s an amuse bouche, a main, a dessert… we aim to surprise.”
Diners will be surprised – and delighted – with dishes such as Jaffa cake with an orange gel centre and yoghurt ice cream, and Textures of Parmesan – a visually spectacular dish which balances hot and cold elements and a ‘parmesan smoke’ captured under a glass lid which obscures the plate from the diner until the grand reveal.
Potts’s talent in the kitchen has also earned him the ardour and respect of some of the UK’s top celebrities. Recently the Karma St Martin’s kitchen team took their culinary excellence on the road to Karma’s stunning Le Preverger Estate, near St Tropez along the Cote d’Azur, to cater the weddings of former English rugby captains and other celebrities.
“It’s a massive undertaking. We’re honoured to have been chosen and proud to do it.”