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Hospitality Journeys: Rupert Cooper, Philleigh Way

Former professional rugby player Rupert Cooper wanted a new venture when he decided to take over Philleigh Way Cookery School after its previous owners had shut the doors.

Philleigh Way is a cookery school based in South Cornwall that also offers unique dining experiences. Bordering the river Fal with the ocean a few miles away this balanced landscape of arable fields, pasture and ancient oak woodland is an inspirational place to learn about food and its provenance.

“I like to think of Philleigh Way as an all-encompassing food business. With a cookery school, event space, dining experience and prep kitchen, I want everything to be about food, drink and the people!” Rupert said.

Rupert started working in a restaurant and bar when he was sixteen and always enjoyed the social aspect of spending time with the team, chefs and customers.

“I loved working behind the bar and in Front of House. The Head Chef at a gastro pub in Warwickshire hugely inspired me and is now a very good friend of mine. When they were unstaffed in the kitchen one day, the manager knew that I knew the menu and said they needed me. My hospitality career and love for food officially started,” he said.

Venturing into professional Rugby, Rupert was away from working in hospitality but was asked if he could cook for supporters as part of an auction prize.

“I thought it would be a laugh and did it – they then asked me back and I got a few more bookings from their friends – from there it snowballed. I wanted it to become official and create a business alongside rugby so started to work in restaurants on my days off, upskilling myself as much as possible.”

Rupert says that his favourite part of working in the industry is creating dishes people love alongside the memorable events and evenings at Philleigh Way. In the future, he would love to set up another cookery school or a sister cafe/restaurant alongside Philleigh Way.

“I’ve always said that anything worth doing isn’t easy. With this profession, you can go where you want in the world, experience great things and be creative – if that sounds like you, you’ll never be disappointed.”

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