At the tender age of just 19, Gabriel Verdi is already running his own kitchen.

However, having started at just 12, washing dishes and plating up desserts, perhaps it is no surprise that the Falmouth-based teenager has already made head chef – and he has no plans to stop there.

Having taken charge of the Kernow Dine & Deli restaurant in Falmouth's Killigrew Street, when it opened in December, Gabriel now has his sights set on a Michelin star one day.

Given that he has already trained under some of the top names in the industry – including Gordon Ramsay and Adam Handling at Ugly Butterfly – it must surely be a case of when rather than if.

We met the man making food waves with his experimental small plates.

Tell us a bit about the Dine & Deli concept – what can customers expect?

At Kernow Dine & Deli we strive to create and serve exceptional food in a relaxed setting. That is true for every aspect of the Kernow Dine & Deli experience.

We source incredible products for our little deli; stock artisan cheeses, both local and from wider afield at the cheese counter and we create incredible dishes from local ingredients, from both land and sea.

Falmouth Packet: The restaurant is joined by a deli selling produce and ingredients used in the dishesThe restaurant is joined by a deli selling produce and ingredients used in the dishes (Image: Maddie Meddings)

We take that passion through to our choice of wines, curated in partnership with Kernowine, and our front-of-house relationship with customers. Attention to detail is at the heart of what we do to showcase the beauty of the produce Cornwall has to offer.

At 19 years old you’ve already been working in the industry for six years – can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up and your career to date?

I was born in London, but my mother is Cornish and we moved back when I was a baby so I grew up here by the coast surrounded by amazing produce.

I have always been inspired by food from the age of five and have been in the kitchen with my mum baking cakes and family dinners ever since. It created a hunger inside me, and I wanted to learn and experiment more with food and plating ideas.

I started my first kitchen at age 12, washing dishes, plating desserts and learning about coffee. I'm also a trained barista.

I met many talented chefs who helped inspire me further. Meanwhile, at school, I started entering young chef competitions.

How does it feel to be running your own kitchen while still a teenager?

Thrilling! I have always loved the stress and the long hours, and having a team to conduct is an incredible experience.

I have been able to create and develop ideas that wouldn’t be possible working under somebody else. I am constantly coming up with new ideas, and what we are doing here is only the start.

Falmouth Packet: Scallops, ceviche, cucumber jalapeño tea, pickled kohlrabi Scallops, ceviche, cucumber jalapeño tea, pickled kohlrabi (Image: Maddie Meddings)

I have lots of exciting new dishes being developed, and being able to showcase the food I love is amazing.

Is there anyone, or any particular moment, that got you into cooking and led to you becoming a chef?

My family are foodies and we've always cooked together at home. I've been inspired by travelling to some amazing places in Europe, Australia and Brazil.

I like classic European flavours, but also Asian food has always interested me. When I went to Sydney in Australia there was a strong Asian community and I got to try so many new and exciting flavours.

My girlfriend is Thai and we love to cook a lot of Thai food together at home.

You’ve worked for some really well-known and respected chefs already, including Gordon Ramsay and Adam Handling at Ugly Butterfly – how have they influenced your style of cooking and how you create dishes?

Seeing and working at that level of discipline and attention to detail created me as a chef. The level of perfection in these kitchens is something that will stay with me forever.

Falmouth Packet: Gabriel with restaurant owners Del and Natasha CrookesGabriel with restaurant owners Del and Natasha Crookes (Image: Maddie Meddings)

Do you have a favourite dish and why?

Rack of lamb served with a pea and mint purée and a red wine jus. This dish is very special to me and holds a lot of nostalgia within my cooking career as it was my winning dish in the Young Chef of the Year Rotary Competition.

Are there any other places in Cornwall that people might have already tried your food before you joined Kernow Dine & Deli?

I worked at Hotel Meudon under Darren Kerley. He trained under Marco Pierre White and taught me a huge amount.

We had a kitchen garden and I learnt how to forage for herbs and work with fresh locally sourced seasonal produce.

The restaurant manager was Stephen Mouser and after finishing my evening shift I would often help out and learn what I could about service and wine. These experiences have shaped my love of hospitality.

Having already made head chef at 19, where do you hope to see your career going from here? Do you have big ambitions for the future?

It has always been a dream of mine to get a Michelin star, which has been an aim for a long time.

Describe what food means to you in three words.

Quality, contemporary and gastronomic.

Kernow Deli and Dine opens for brunch/lunch 10.30am to 2.30pm, followed by dinner 5pm to 10.30pm. It also serves cream teas, coffee and cake from 10am until 3.30am.

The deli side sells fresh local produce, including ingredients used in the food served at the restaurant, with cheeses from the cheese counter used on the cheese boards, in addition to charcuteries, pasta, homemade focaccia, freshly baked croissants and salad boxes.

It opened in December under the ownership of Del and Natasha Crookes, following the success of Kernowine next door.