Restaurateur of the Year – Independent, Nathan Outlaw
Over the past 10 years Nathan Outlaw has amassed an empire of highly acclaimed, seafood-inspired restaurants in Cornwall, London and Dubai, boasting four Michelin stars and nine AA rosettes between them. As a prolific writer of recipes, the accomplished chef has also found time to write four respected cookery books and support his passion for education and training of young chefs through his academy at Cornwall College.
But Outlaw’s journey from chef-patron to restaurateur hasn’t always been plain sailing, which makes his success all the more remarkable. Outlaw was born in 1978 in Maidstone, Kent. The son of a chef, he spent his early years working in kitchens and by his teens was a regular feature alongside his father in the foodservice sector. After graduating from college, Outlaw moved to London to work at the InterContinental hotel under the late, great Peter Kromberg. Here, and later working for chefs Gary Rhodes and Eric Chavot, he discovered a passion for seafood and decided there was only one place to further his knowledge.
“It was 1997 and Rick Stein was huge,” Outlaw told The Caterer last year. “He was my hero and always has been. I got on a train at Paddington and knocked on his door in Padstow.”
The gamble paid off – not only did he secure a job, but he met his future wife, Rachel, too. After a few years working his way up from chef de partie, Stein advised him to gain fine-dining skills and so, aged 21, Outlaw took a sous chef role under John Campbell at the Lords of the Manor in Gloucestershire, later moving to the Vineyard at Stockcross as Campbell’s head chef.
At just 25, and against everyone’s advice, Outlaw decided to go it alone and opened his first restaurant, the Black Pig, in Rock in 2003. Within eight months he was awarded a Michelin star, but the seasonal nature of trade took its toll and Outlaw closed the restaurant in 2006.
By the end of that year, he had taken on the restaurant at the Marina hotel in Fowey, putting his name over the door for the first time.
By now, Outlaw had appeared on the BBC’s Great British Menu and he was also operating a casual-dining restaurant at the St Enodoc hotel in Rock. When the credit crunch came and the owners sold the Marina hotel, he relocated Restaurant Nathan Outlaw to St Enodoc.
In 2011, it was awarded two Michelin stars. In 2012, Outlaw took his brand to London with the opening of Outlaw’s at the Capital in Knightsbridge – it won a Michelin star the following year. He then opened Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, a charming, 18-seat restaurant in a wonky Grade II-listed building. It too was awarded a Michelin star. In July 2014, he opened the Mariners Public House in Rock in partnership with Sharp’s Brewery.
Critically, 2015 saw the relocation of Restaurant Nathan Outlaw to its forever home in Port Isaac. Outlaw said: “Rachel and I have always wanted to put our roots down long term; somewhere we could call home for the next 20 years. It fitted that criteria.”
Last year, in the same year that Outlaw took his brand to Dubai with the launch of Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara at the Burj Al Arab, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw took The Good Food Guide’s ultimate accolade: a perfect 10.
What the judges said
“Nathan is a hands-on, experienced restaurateur, who continues to wow guests with his simple approach to stellar cooking and warm service.”
“A truly gifted chef who has progressed into a world-class restaurant operator.”
Michael Deane, Deanes Restaurant, Belfast
Josh Eggleton, The Pony and Trap, Chew Magna, Somerset
Angela Hartnett, Murano, London
Tom Kerridge, The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Nathan Outlaw, Nathan Outlaw Restaurants
Peter Backman, Horizons
Elizabeth Carter, The Good Food Guide
Chris Galvinm Galvin Restaurants
Sam Hart, Hart Bros Restaurants
Alistair Sandall, Institute of Hospitality
Will Smith, Sugar Boat, Helensburgh
Stephen Terry, The Hardwick Company