If indulgence was a month, it would be December. When mince pies still-warm from the oven taste all the better smothered in clotted cream. When eight roast potatoes have been devoured with worrying ease, but then... who's counting? And when plate-tipping lunches of cheese, fruitcake and cured meats are allowed because, well — it is Christmas. Along with their favourite festive recipes, here, some of Cornwall's top chefs share how they enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. 


Ben Coombs, Argoe 

Argoe in Newlyn is one of Cornwall's most exciting restaurants, headed up by chef Ben Coombs (of London's Rochelle Canteen) and local fishmonger Richard Adams. Here, the sea is at the core of everything — from the location; the stylish, wood-clad cabin perches on the harbour's edge, to the menu; the seafood-centric sharing plates (think whole grilled Megrim sole and fish soup) are devised on the day depending on the catch, to the views; the fishing boats provide an authentic backdrop whilst dining, inside or out. 

"Christmas has to be my favourite time of the year," says Ben. "A time when hospitality is pushed to the fore and friends and family can truly be celebrated. I love the traditions of Christmas too, whether old or new. Doing the same thing once in a while reminds us of who we are and where we come from, as well as how life moves on. 

It also never ceases to amaze me how a year is just the right length of time to truly miss an ingredient. I'm always dying to eat asparagus in spring, the first strawberries in summer, the apples of autumn and the roots of winter. But the goose at Christmas has to be the highlight of them all and is usually what we’re eating on Christmas Day - followed by our favourite quince trifle for pudding!

On Christmas Eve, after we’ve finished the food prep, we’ll usually watch Die Hard before heading to a local pub for a chin-up with the locals before a late night present-wrapping session. On Christmas Day, there's all the big day stuff like a fancy breakfast with something fizzy, starting the cooking, opening the presents and a lovely walk with Mavis the dog whilst the goose is getting its tan. We then settle in to the event of dinner, before inevitably falling asleep in front of a movie or two.

Then, there’s always the leftover hash and fried eggs to look forward to for breakfast the morning after:"

Christmas leftovers hash

Breakfast hash


- A good spoonful of cooking fat, hopefully from the roast the previous day

- Leftover meat (or leave out, if vegetarian)

- Sliced onion and garlic 

- A few leftover roast potatoes 

- A mix of leftover vegetables, ideally something rooty and something green 

- Eggs for frying 


Start by roughly chopping your leftover meat and vegetables, slicing your onion and garlic, and squishing up your leftover roast potatoes. 

Heat up the chosen fat in a large frying pan (preferably cast iron but anything will work here) on a medium/high heat and, when hot, fry the meat off for a few minutes to get a little colour. Next, throw in the onions and garlic and turn down the heat a little to medium. Continue to fry until the onions become translucent and sweet, and remove any fond (caramelised bits) from the bottom of the pan. 

Next, add in the roast potatoes and veggies and continue to move around the pan slowly to warm through and encourage it to start binding. Then, start pressing the mixture together into a sort of cake in the pan and turn the heat down to low. Allow the mix to crisp slightly on one side, before carefully turning out onto a plate and then returning to the pan to repeat the process on the other side, adding more fat if necessary. 

Finally, turn the hash out onto a serving plate, wipe out the pan, and fry as many eggs as you like. Serve them with wedges of the hash, plenty of English mustard and some Bloody Marys for those slightly worse for wear... 


Jeffrey Robinson, Harbour House Flushing

Harbour House Flushing is a shell-pink pub overlooking the picturesque fishing village's pretty harbour. Here, chef Jeffrey Robinson (of New Yard) and team serve elegant and flavour-filled dishes that — let's just say — are a little more elevated than your standard fish 'n' chips from the local. We're talking mullet, 'njuda and cuttlefish ragu, a spectacular Sunday roast, and even a savoury-sweet cheese mille feuille dessert. Plus, it's got one of the most beautiful dining rooms in all of Cornwall, to boot! 

"Christmas is the best time of the year. I love everything about it," says Jeffrey. "Every year, our extended family, based out of the county, will come down to Cornwall and we eat, drink, watch Elf on repeat and just completely relax. On Boxing Day, heading to a local beach with the dogs for a sea swim is our little family tradition. It also alleviates the guilt about enjoying more festive indulgence later in the day!

I stand firmly on the side of those that enjoy Christmas pudding and, fortunately for me, my mother-in-law is a famous cake maker so the pudding responsibility usually sits firmly with her. However, for those who are on dessert duty, this one is a bit of a showstopper:"

Panettone bread & butter pudding


Ingredients for the pudding: 

- Leftover Christmas panettone, sliced into cm(ish) slices

- 500ml double cream

- 10 egg yolks

- 50g sugar


Pre-heat an oven to 180c. 

Mix the yolks with the sugar, the milk and the cream and whisk up until totally incorporated. 

Line a baking tray with some butter and evenly spread out the slices of panettone - you want to go two slices high. Then, simply pour over the milk and egg mixture and leave to soak in. You may want to leave it an hour and add more, or overnight to make sure it is really soaked in. Don't be forced to use all of the milk mixture if you feel you can't fit anymore in.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. It should have risen and start to look wonderfully caramelised. I recommend picking a little burnt piece off the side as a chef's perk for cooking it for everyone else.

Ingredients for the roasted white chocolate custard: 

- 300ml milk

- 350ml double cream

- 6 egg yolks

- 50g panela or sugar

- 200g white chocolate


Roast the white chocolate on some grease proof paper at 180c until golden brown, then leave to set.

Warm the milk and cream whilst whisking the panela / sugar with the egg yolks until creamed nicely. When the cream mixture is good and warm, but not bubbling hot (else you risk scrambling the eggs), pour a third over the yolks whilst whisking. When incorporated, return back to the remaining cream and put back on the hob over a medium heat, whilst constantly moving until the mixture gets hot. You should notice it become slightly more viscous. Take off the heat and add to a blender, then add the roasted white chocolate and whizz it right up on a high speed and serve warm.

Simply slice up the pudding and serve it with the warm custard. In the restaurant, we deep fry the pudding and dust in nutmeg sugar (particularly nice for Christmas), but that's some serious calories!


Ethan Friskney-Bryer, Fitzroy 

Fitzroy is a neighbourhood restaurant in Cornwall's idyllic coastal town of Fowey, by the renowned restaurateur duo behind London's Jolene and Westerns Laundry. Here, the daily-rotating menu of seasonally-inspired, uncomplicated dishes, overseen by chef Ethan Friskney-Bryer (of Elliot's London) allows the quality ingredients to shine — think handmade pasta with courgette and broad beans come summer, followed by garlic butter-laced Cornish lobster. Ethan runs a series of Grale Frit pop-ups too, so keep your eyes peeled! 

'Whilst I'm always busy in the build up to Christmas, I still always seem to end up cooking on Christmas Day at other people’s houses!" says Ethan. "Unless I go to my parents' house - then that’s my father’s domain. I enjoy it though - it’s a totally different ambience to cooking at work; with a significantly more relaxed pace and the occasional glass of something fizzy.

Cooking is a demonstration of love and there is no better time of year than Christmas to gather with those closest to you to cook and share a Christmas Day feast (it normally gets you out of the washing up, too!)  

To me, the most important part of any roast is the sauce. A good quality gravy or jus can really elevate a meal and, the good thing is, it can be done in advance to take the pressure off on the day itself, when you’ve had a couple of glasses of sherry with breakfast and the stove is already full of pans! 

The below is more a technique than a recipe per se, so it can be adapted to any meat. If you have the time in the build up to Christmas, it’s worth making a stock yourself - you can always pop it in the freezer. Make the sauce itself a day or so before, otherwise you may lose some of the intensity." 

Christmas Day beef gravy 

Gravy pan

Ingredients (to make approximately 1 litre): 

- 500g beef trim

- 5 large shallots 

- 250g mushrooms

- Thyme & rosemary 

- Peppercorns 

- 3 glasses of heavy red wine (replacing one with port would be nice if you've one knocking around)

- 3 litres beef/veal stock 


Start by colouring the beef trim (ask your butchers if they have any trim that’s not too fatty, or simply buy some good quality diced beef). This stage is very important: you need to get as much colour on the beef as you can – this is going to provide the flavour. 

Once the beef is coloured, remove it from the pan (don’t throw it away!) and add the mushrooms.  Same principle as the beef – colour is flavour. The mushrooms will provide depth to the sauce. Leave them in the pan and add the peppercorns, shallots, thyme and rosemary. Give them a good stir so they start to pick up a little of the caramelised beef that will inevitably be stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

Once the onions have softened, turn up the heat and add your wine; stirring and scraping any residual beef flavour off the bottom of the pan. Once reduced down to approximately a third, add your beef trim back to the pan along with the stock. You then want to cook this as slowly as possible (skimming and discarding – not down the drain – any fat or scum that floats to the top). Once it has reduced by approximately half, add a little more thyme and rosemary and allow to rest for approximately an hour before passing through a fine sieve (make sure you get every drop of liquid out of the beef/vegetables by pressing it).

On Christmas Day, add any resting juices from the joint to intensify the flavour. Finally, a little freshly ground pepper and check the seasoning.


Read about some of our other favourite restaurants in Cornwall, or book your Cornish escape.