Born in March 1978, Nathan grew up in Maidstone, Kent with his mother, father and younger brother, Ashley. He has early memories of working in kitchens. As young as eight, Nathan was helping his father, also a chef, on Saturday mornings during breakfast service. Nathan recalls, “My main job was flipping toast and buttering it”. At fourteen, Nathan started working for his father as a chef in a large industrial catering kitchen. He was also cooking at the local golf club and pub on Saturday evenings.
At eighteen, after two years at Thanet Catering College in Broadstairs, Nathan moved to London to work at the Intercontinental Hotel, Hyde Park Corner under the late Peter Kromberg, learning the day-to-day functioning of a busy five star hotel kitchen.
After brief spells working for Gary Rhodes at City Rhodes and Eric Chavot at Chavot on Fulham Road, Nathan then aged twenty, made the move to Cornwall to work for Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. Here Nathan’s passion for seafood began. Employed as a chef de partie, he made his way up to sous chef, working closely alongside head chef, Paul Ripley. Nathan’s first year at The Seafood Restaurant was spent prepping fish. He recalls preparing almost every variety of fish caught off the South West coast! His second year was spent mastering the fine art of cooking fish under the pressure of a busy kitchen.
Whilst at The Seafood Restaurant, Nathan met his future wife, Rachel, a local girl who was working front of house. Together they decided it was time to move on and experience the world of fine dining. With this in mind, Nathan took the job of sous chef at Lords of the Manor in Gloucestershire under John Campbell. It was here that Nathan learned the business side of running a busy kitchen and the attention to detail required at one Michelin star level. It was also during their two years at Lords of the Manor that Nathan and Rachel were married.
Following a call from chef friend Paul Ripley, Nathan and Rachel left Gloucestershire and moved back to Cornwall for six months to help open Ripleys, where Paul Ripley went on to earn one Michelin star. Nathan’s next move was back with John Campbell, this time at the Vineyard, Stock Cross. John had recently taken over the restaurant and recruited Nathan as his head chef. At twenty three, this was Nathan’s first appointment as head chef. Nathan helped John set up and run the kitchen for one year, overseeing the kitchen and menu in John’s absence.
At twenty four, Nathan felt ready to make his move and start demonstrating his own menu and approach to cuisine. This decision, accompanied with Nathan’s passion for Cornwall and its produce, led him to The Black Pig in Rock, North Cornwall. The small restaurant, seating a maximum of 32 diners, saw Nathan take over in May 2003, with just himself and one commis chef helping. Just two weeks before opening, Rachel gave birth to Jacob, their first child. In January 2004, aged twenty five, Nathan was awarded his first Michelin star. Unfortunately though, even the draw of a Michelin star could not combat the seasonal nature of the catering business in Cornwall, especially Rock, and Nathan was forced to move on to find better business.
In 2005, Nathan took over the kitchen at St Ervan Manor in North Cornwall, formerly a bed and breakfast establishment. Nathan helped the owners set up a successful restaurant, where his cooking and unique approach to Cornish produce earned him one Michelin star again. Whilst at St Ervan Manor, Nathan and Rachel welcomed their daughter, Jessica, into the family. Nathan’s stay here was cut short however, when the owners decided to relocate to London, closing the restaurant and leaving Nathan looking for his next move.
At the end of 2006, Nathan agreed to take the head chef position at The Marina Hotel in Fowey, with the proviso that he would be cooking with his name above the restaurant door. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw was awarded rising two stars by Michelin within its first year of opening.
With increased success in the kitchen and his reputation building, Nathan’s national media involvement truly began in 2008, when he competed on the BBC’s Great British Menu. Subsequently, Nathan has appeared on Market Kitchen and Saturday Kitchen, as well as returning in 2009 to compete for a second time on Great British Menu.
Whilst working in Fowey, Nathan opened Outlaw’s at The St Enodoc Hotel in Rock, his own creation of a casual dining restaurant. With this venture, Nathan Outlaw Restaurants Ltd. was born and Nathan became the director of his first company as well as being responsible for the food and beverages at the St Enodoc Hotel. In February 2010, Nathan decided to leave Fowey and set up his fine dining restaurant under the same roof as Outlaw’s in Rock. With two restaurants at The St Enodoc Hotel and a strong team behind him, Nathan finally felt settled and able to concentrate on his love of cooking. To begin with his menu was composed almost entirely of Cornish seafood, with only two meat dishes featured. At the end of 2010, Nathan decided to offer just one set tasting menu, now developed into four fish courses, cheese selection and two desserts. Nathan’s vision became clear, and with his passion for fish and unique approach to modern seafood cookery he was awarded two Michelin stars in 2011 and the honour of being named Best Fish Restaurant in the UK by the Good Food Guide 2011. In addition, The Good Food Guide 2011 rated Restaurant Nathan Outlaw 5th in the UK, a place which has been retained in 2012 and 2013, climbing to a cooking score of 9/10 in 2013.
Nathan’s vision for his restaurants is to see continual progression, and to offer each customer the best seafood, cooked to the highest standard. Alongside running his busy restaurants, Nathan has written and released his first book, ‘Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood’ where he demonstrates interesting and easy to follow recipes which highlight the fantastic quality and variety of seafood available in the UK.
In an exciting development, Nathan has also opened Outlaw’s at The Capital Hotel in London, giving him an outlet in the city for the first time. Here, head chef Pete Biggs, who has worked with Nathan for 11 years, leads the team in the kitchen, producing wonderful seafood dishes in a comfortable dining environment.