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Meet the chef: Daniel Kerr, head chef of Dune Restaurant at Fistral Beach Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall

By Natasha Heard  |  September 19, 2021

With more than 16 years under his chef’s apron, Daniel Kerr, head chef at Dune Restaurant in Newquay, has worked with the likes of Michelin chef Tom Aikens as well as at food destinations The Lugger and The Idle Rocks in Cornwall.

The restaurant is located at the adult-only Fistral Beach Hotel overlooking the famous surfing beach in Newquay, Cornwall. With a passion for locally produced food, Daniel brings exciting flavour combinations and inventive menus that prioritise quality produce to Dune Restaurant, which was recently awarded an AA Rosette.

We caught up with Daniel to hear all about his biggest inspirations, why turbot is his top ingredient and his love of chicken satay.

What or who inspired you to become a chef? 

​I joined kitchen life after realising I wasn’t going to make football my career! I instantly fell in love with the high adrenaline and competitive atmosphere in the kitchen. Since then, I’ve taken great inspiration from Tom Aikens, whose style of food really excited me.  

Dune Restaurant food
Seasonality, texture and flavour combinations are all key consideration when crafting a menu

What’s your signature dish? 

​I don’t really have one, but we do serve a really great 48-hour pork belly dish that you’ll occasionally see on the menu at Dune. It uses a great belly from Cornish Primrose Herd Pork, which we cure and cook for 48 hours and then press. Each one is pan-fried to order to give colour, and then the garnish changes depending on the season. We’ve done it with squash puree and plum, parsnip and apple – always playing with contrasting sweet and tart flavours with salty crackling. It’s such a great dish to experiment with.

What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu? 

​Seasonality is always at the forefront. I start by listing all ingredients that are going to be in season and then whittle it down to flavour combinations that work well together, as well as what textures and techniques we want to use to really showcase the produce as best we can. 

Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?  

I think it’s hard for them not to. It’s easier to be passionate about a dish if you personally really love it. Having said that, I always try and prioritise what our guests are going to enjoy the most and what really works for that season’s produce.

Dune restaurant
Dune Restaurant is located at the adult-only Fistral Beach Hotel overlooking the famous surfing beach in Newquay, Cornwall

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with? 

​It’s hard to single out: after a long winter, spring always feels really special and I look forward to working with bright vibrant flavours. Then, equally, after a warm summer, the autumn menu – full of slow braises and big rich flavours – is equally satisfying and very comforting. 

What is your favourite ingredient? 

​Turbot. It’s just so much better than anything else in the sea. The sweet taste really is something special. Such a beautiful ingredient to cook with.  

What would you do if you weren’t a chef? 

I was a sports geek at school, so something like sports therapy or sports psychology. 

What is your favourite dish to cook at home? 

My chicken satay is a house favourite, or butter chicken curry. 

Dune Restaurant food
“It’s easier to be passionate about a dish if you personally really love it”

When are you happiest?

On a sunny day off with my family and my dog, or on the sauce section for a busy night with my great team around me. 

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found? ​

I have a 10-month old baby, so I try to spend as much time with him as possible as well as down the beach with my dog Narla.

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food? 

I love sushi or bao buns, but my favourite comfort food has to be my chicken satay.

Where is your favourite place to dine? 

I love The Heron Inn in Malpas or The Rising Sun in Truro. Both are owned by chefs and the food is just want you want to eat on your days off: big on flavour and perfectly cooked. The view when eating outside at The Heron is quite something as well.