Sea shanty serenades and a sausage-free beach barbecue for G7 leaders

·5-min read
Carrie and Boris Johnson walk with Joe and Jill Biden in Cornwall, ahead of the three-day G7 summit - Toby Melville/AFP
Carrie and Boris Johnson walk with Joe and Jill Biden in Cornwall, ahead of the three-day G7 summit - Toby Melville/AFP

Imagine the scene. Angela Merkel sits on the beach, toes wriggling in the sand, while Justin Trudeau reclines in his deckchair, sipping on a buttered rum. In the background Joe Biden attempts to sing along to a Cornish sea shanty as Boris Johnson toasts a marshmallow by the fire pit.

Welcome to the G7 summit, British-style with a barbecue on the beach. The only thing missing is the rain. The forecast for Saturday night’s shindig for the leaders of the world’s seven richest nations is sunny skies and not a cloud in sight.

Before that, the global leaders will enjoy that other great British tradition: an audience with the Royals. On Friday, ahead of the barbecue, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will all travel to Cornwall to woo the world’s most powerful leaders at a reception at the Eden Project.

If that doesn’t break the ice, the beach on Saturday night should do the trick. “The plan is for a warm, nice vibe around the fire,” explained Simon Stallard, the chef hired by the Cabinet Office to create a clubbable, beachside bonhomie.

Food prepared by Simon Stallard at The Hidden Hut
Food prepared by Simon Stallard at The Hidden Hut

Mr Stallard and his wife Jemma Glass run The Hidden Hut, a modest beachside barbecue shack on the remote Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. The couple have transported their 50ft-long barbecue grill to the beach at Carbis Bay, host to the G7 summit, to cook Saturday night dinner for the Bidens, Johnsons, Macrons, Merkels et al.

A cut above the average barbecue, The Hidden Hut will be serving up canapes of scallops and mackerel, followed by “seared and smokey” sirloin and Newlyn lobster. It may all sound a bit meaty but Mr Stallard insists the meat and fish are accompaniments to a barrage of vegetable dishes including roasted beetroot baked whole over an oak fire and all washed down with a “hedgerow” gin-based cocktail, Cornish beer and sparkling wine, as well as Australian red and German white wine. It’s enough to get Mr Johnson’s juices flowing.

“There is something really nice about the movement of fire and it does soften down the mood and pulls people into the fire,” said Mr Stallard, hopeful that his sumptuous feast will lead to an outpouring of peace, love and harmony.

If the food doesn’t work, the sea shanties drifting in the Cornish air might do the trick. The singing troop Du Hag Owr (Cornish for Black and Gold) will entertain the global elite with shanties that will conclude (spoiler alert) with the Cornish anthem Cornwall My Home. It is fair to say it’s the biggest gig that Du Hag Owr has played to date. “We once played in Oxford Street in London when the Cornish clothing brand Sea Salt opened in John Lewis but this is the pinnacle,” said Vernon Keen, who at the age of 75 is suddenly thrust into the world music spotlight.

The group – by their own admission – consists of “five old men and Alan and his dog”, in reference to the fact the group’s youngest member Alan Collins is in his 50s. Their modest performance fee, as it always does, is being donated to a local children’s hospice.

On Friday, the G7 leaders will enjoy an intimate meal amid the extraordinary surroundings of the Eden Project. After an arduous selection process that involved tasting a variety of delicious foods, officials from the Cabinet Office picked the local chef Emily Scott to cook the summit’s centrepiece meal.

Ms Scott, 45, said on Thursday the “simplicity of her menu” – without fashionable foams and the like – but cooked with “great attention to detail” had been just what was wanted for the big occasion. Ms Scott said she was nervous and had not slept well “for a few weeks” in the build up to the big night but was confident of success. She will be helped by her three children Oscar, 20, who is returning from university to work, Finn, 18, who is one of her chefs, and Evie, 16, who will be part of the highly-trained front of house staff.

She is closing her restaurant for the night – Emily Scott Food – and taking her staff with her to the Eden Project. “I am not fine dining,” she said. “It is not about foam. It’s about simplicity and attention to detail and very feminine. This is the biggest thing I will do in my career.”

Emily Scott will cook the summit’s centrepiece meal - Jay Williams
Emily Scott will cook the summit’s centrepiece meal - Jay Williams

The Royal family will not stay for dinner. But they will descend on the Eden Project for a pre-dinner reception. The Duchess of Cambridge will have her own meeting with Jill Biden, America’s First Lady, before all five senior Royals join presidents and prime ministers for the reception.

None of the Royals will give a speech but their attendance suggests a display of soft power diplomacy.

Then it’s on to another reception, this one hosted by the Prince of Wales for G7 leaders and chief executives of some of the world’s largest companies. Adding glamour will be the likes of the fashion designer Stella McCartney.

The Prince on Thursday hailed the summit as a "game-changing opportunity" and used it to highlight the "existential crisis" of climate change, at a meeting with business leaders at St James’s Palace ahead of the summit.

On Sunday, Mr Biden will be welcomed to Windsor by the Queen with a Guard of Honour, followed by tea with the monarch at the castle.

Asked about meeting the Royals, Mrs Biden said: "Joe and I are both looking forward to meeting the Queen. That's an exciting part of the visit for us.

"We've looked forward to this for weeks and now it's finally here. It's a beautiful beginning."

Mrs Biden was clearly taken by her meeting with Mrs Johnson. On Twitter on the First Lady's official account, she posted: "It was wonderful to spend some time with Carrie Johnson and her son, Wilfred, today. The special relationship continues."

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