'My dream was always to have a restaurant...'
Celebrated seafood chef Nathan Outlaw tells Ella Walker about his culinary highs and lows
You won't write off seafood if chef Nathan Outlaw has anything to say about it. The Michelin-starred restaurateur, based in Cornwall, grew up scoffing fish and chips like the rest of us, but now utterly elevates seafood - making dishes that are simple yet elegant.
His latest cookbook, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, fortunately lets you in on his kitchen secrets, so even if you can't make it to the West Country to try his food firsthand, you can give it a good go at home.
We caught up with the dad-of-two to discover the memories that have helped shape his life in food.
His earliest memory of food is...
It always seems to be Christmassy stuff or buffets. My parents always used to have quite a few house parties and I remember being younger and there'd be buffets. Summertime barbecues and picnics as well - my parents didn't have lots of money, so we'd always take picnics to the beach. That's a really good memory for me - sandy sandwiches.
Outlaw's culinary high moment is...
Having the restaurant - it's always what I set out to do. I just became a chef because I enjoyed cooking - awards or Michelin stars are great, but for me it's about having a restaurant. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw opened in 2007 in a hotel space, but the actual opening of the current location (in Port Isaac, Cornwall), because me and my wife own it, means much more here than it ever did before.
The worst disaster he's ever had in the kitchen is...
I've never had anything that's stopped service. I remember one New Year's Eve I was on my own in the kitchen, back in my first restaurant called The Black Pig, and I thought I'd make some doughnuts for a petit four to go with the coffees at the end. I made the mistake of serving them without checking them, and basically, put it this way, they were as hard as golf balls. They kept coming back. My wife never let me forget about it, even if we walk past a doughnut in a shop, she'll say, 'Better than yours!'
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw by Nathan Outlaw, photography by David Loftus, published by Bloomsbury Absolute, £45