The family-run café cooking up a storm in Cornwall

As awareness grows about where food comes from, Tim Spedding and Louise Roedkjaer Spedding put provenance at the heart of their café in Trelowarren, Cornwall
Trelowarren restaurant
Louise and Tim have taken on responsibility for Trelowarren’s café and restaurant, as well as its walled garden

A renowned chef is transforming the culinary experience of diners at a restaurant, café and bakery at Trelowarren, in keeping with the estate’s forward-thinking vision.

Flora is a family-run business headed by husband and wife Tim Spedding and Louise Roedkjaer Spedding at the estate, situated on the Lizard peninsula. Over the past six years, the couple have successfully established themselves in Cornwall.

Having studied at Cornwall College Camborne, Tim, whose work has been widely acclaimed, went on to work at the Headland Hotel and Porthminster Beach Café. Following travels in Asia and Australia, where he worked at Vans in Perth and Quay in Sydney, he returned to the UK to work at The Ledbury before moving to The Clove Club, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Shoreditch where he was head chef. The couple’s affection for Cornwall drew them back in 2017.

Tim explains: “Louise and I have worked our whole careers in hospitality – we met when I was on an internship at a restaurant in Copenhagen – and we share the same vision. I persuaded her to move to Cornwall so we could pursue our dream of running our rural restaurant and having land to grow produce.”

The couple first hosted pop-up events and supper clubs under the name Lola’s. During the pandemic, they delivered ‘dine at home’ boxes across north Cornwall, with each box featuring six courses from a menu that changed weekly. Six months ago, the opportunity to run the café and restaurant at Trelowarren came up.

“We were tipped off through a mutual friend as they knew we had been looking for something like this for many years, and they thought it would be a really good fit,” says Tim.

“I knew the estate and the potential it had. What appealed to us about the opportunity of running the café and restaurant at Trelowarren was the beauty of the space. It’s been an adventure taking on this project – the Lizard isn’t the most fashionable part of Cornwall but it’s a genuine place that we have really enjoyed, and Trelowarren’s vision is well aligned with our own.”

Trelowarren restaurant food

Food provenance

Something else the couple has enjoyed is the focus on provenance, carrying on the established tradition at Trelowarren.

“Everybody is becoming so much more conscientious about where their food is coming from,” says Tim. “Yet chefs have been thinking about this for a long time, and it is great that customers are more clued up about the origins of what they are eating. It’s been lovely starting with Flora, which is a more casual restaurant.

“You can cook with what you have, so the menu changes all the time. We hope people can taste the provenance, rather than it being pushed on them.”

We want people to come here for a really nice experience; we hope they can taste the care that has gone into growing, catching or producing the food they are eating

Tim Spedding

As well as gathering produce from Trelowarren’s walled gardens, of which they are custodians, and what can be foraged on the estate, the couple is tapping into a network of local growers, local farmers, fisherfolk and foragers.

“It’s been a revelation as we’re always finding small artisanal food producers, often through word of mouth, to work with,” says Tim.

“From the start, one of the things that we knew was going to be great was the opportunity to work with one of the best fish suppliers in the country – Kernowsashimi, who I worked with in London. The restaurant I worked at was one of their first customers in the city. They have a fleet of day boats, and the way they handle the fish means it is of the highest quality you can find. We also work with Phillip Warren, with whom we have a good relationship, and even though we are a small operation, we’re able to cherry-pick what suits our needs.

“Cornwall is one of those places where people are attracted to the land, and because of the economic benefits of tourism, a lot of small producers can take advantage of this. Cornwall has so many wonderful farmers and growers, and we’re just scratching the surface of what is available.”

Business development

In an exciting move, Will McElhinney, previously of The Newt in Somerset, will be joining to help oversee the produce grown in the walled garden. It is a perfect fit, says Tim. “As a small business we don’t have limitless resources, and everything you invest in you need to see a return for. We want to have a beautiful garden that is also productive.”

As with any start-up business, there have been challenges, yet Tim believes you have to take a leap of faith. “Louise and I have each worked 20 years in hospitality - it’s taken a long time for us to have our own business.

“The realities are it is hard work in this industry. Obviously it’s a very challenging economic environment at the moment, but we’re fortunate that Trelowarren has a great reputation; those who know about it hold it very dear, and it is an environmentally-focused business. At the same time, for those just discovering it, it’s such a hidden gem. We believe that if you do something well, people will want to experience it. Although it’s remote, people do come and join us for lunch, even on some of the most uninspiring days.”

With the café successfully up and running, the couple are looking to their next projects, including relaunching The New Yard restaurant, which will fully launch in spring 2024.

Tim adds: “We’re also looking to start a monthly food and craft market in the courtyard, which will give us the opportunity to invite local producers to showcase their offering to visitors.”